Stuff that occurs to me

All of my 'how to' posts are tagged here. The most popular posts are about blocking and private accounts on Twitter, also the science communication jobs list. None of the science or medical information I might post to this blog should be taken as medical advice (I'm not medically trained).

Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

Contact: @JoBrodie Email: jo DOT brodie AT gmail DOT com

Science in London: The 2018 scientific society talks in London blog post

Sunday, 11 March 2018

You can occasionally watch science-themed films at Greenwich's Planetarium

Image credit: Greenwich Park by "12019", Pixabay CC0 licence
(the main exit gate into Cutty Sark is to the left of this picture)

Last night I went to see Hidden Figures at the Planetarium by the Royal Observatory near the top of Greenwich Park - it was fantastic. I had previously heard of their Silver Screen series but hadn't been along to one (though I did attend a screening of Sense and Sensibility at the National Maritime Museum a few years ago) so I was curious to find out how it all worked.

The Planetarium has a hemispheric screen all of which can be projected on during planetarium shows. Obviously this isn't quite what's wanted in a regular screening. Fortunately a rectangular area of the screen (in front of the seats!) was picked out and the film projected there. It looked completely normal and 'flat' so I wonder if some clever stuff was going on with the lens, in order to project a flat image onto a curved surface. Surrounding the screened rectangle they projected a very gently moving star field / map which I thought was a rather nice touch.

After the film there was a short presentation about the women in the film and about which bits of the history were 'Hollywood-ised' and what actually happened. The talk also mentioned some women 'computers' (which is what mathematicians who made calculations for astronomical and other purposes were called) that were relevant to the Greenwich Observatory.

Here's a useful page which currently has all of the previous screenings but I'm assuming that the next lot (Contact, Tron and ... Predator I think) would be added at the end of it.

Note that I'm hoping to be screening The Dish in September at the Charlton & Woolwich Free Film Festival, date to be confirmed.

Things to be aware of
Greenwich Park closes at different times depending on the time of year. In the middle of summer it's open until 9.30pm but in March it shuts at 7pm (the film started at 6pm). The observatory have a couple of mini-vans to bus people out in groups (don't worry they wait for everyone!) but you'll be taken to the bottom of the park, to St Mary's Gate (the big main gate) near the Cutty Sark ship in the 'main' bit of Greenwich (map of the park with bus and other info). Because I live in Blackheath I'd entered through a different gate at the top of the park, which was now closed - so be aware that you may end up in a different place from where you started. Fortunately I have a travelcard so it didn't cost me any extra to get back home again.

We didn't drive through the gates though (I think they were closed) but were deposited just inside them and walked through. There were some parked cars by the observatory and I don't know which gate they exited through (possibly the Blackheath gate at the top) but we weren't supposed to wander off by ourselves on foot and had to be conveyed to the exit. It was quite fun being driven around the park late at night anyway.

We got briefly confused* on trying to leave the Observatory. You leave through the photography exhibition and then take a small wooden spiral staircase upwards (reversing your journey). At the top if you turn in one direction you'll find the exit quite quickly but if not you may find yourself trying to wander in and out of diferent exhibits trying to remember your route back (unless you have a good memory or sense of direction... guess who doesn't). There was another patron there wondering how on earth to get out but we found it quite quickly, but I might suggest better signposting.

*OK not that confused, but it wasn't a smooth exit ;)

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