Selene at the Science Museum

There’s something wonderful about being in a museum after hours. Umberto Eco’s wonderful Foucault’s Pendulum opens with one of the protagonists hiding out in the Musée des Arts et Métiers, Paris. I was once invited to a party to celebrate the opening of a new gallery at the Science Museum in London and was able to slip away unnoticed, exploring the space section of the museum on my own with access never dreamt of during regul28012009-johnny-in-science-museum-shop-w-harry-potter1ar hours.

Last night, the Science Museum held one of its “Lates” sessions, a rather more official way of seeing the museum than my earlier nocturnal wanderings. And I noted, with disappointment, that this time, the route to the Apollo 10 capsule was barred. But it was good to see signed copies of Johnny Mackintosh  beside Harry Potter in the museum bookshop.

However, while most of the crowds were there to see the Japan Car exhibition, I’d gone along on another of my moon missions – to view the high-definition videos from SELENE, one of Japan’s satellites in lunar orbit.


In mythology, Selene is the name of the Greek equivalent of Luna and was a daughter of two Titans. Nowadays, the spacecraft is more often called Kaguya, the name chosen by the Japanese public after a beautiful lunar princess in a Japanese folk story (who rejects countless marriage proposals here on Earth before returning to her original home on the Moon). SELENE stands for SELenological and ENgineering Explorer

Although images from the satellite are high-definition and give a better view of overflying the Moon than we’ve had before, they were projected onto the screen in the Science Museum’s small theatre rather than its giant Imax, and were at the limits of magnification with some pixilation setting in, so still came across as pretty low-resolution. But it’s always a wonderful thing to see Earthrise.

It’s well worth taking a look at the dedicated youtube channel. Sadly, I’m not allowed embed the videos into this blog to give you a taster. The accompanying copy read “the closest you can get to flying over the moon”, but I’d argue that, for the very best Moon experience, you really have to see the Imax film Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon 3D. Now that, genuinely, is just like being there…

All the space images are copyright Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)
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~ by keithmansfield on January 29, 2009.

One Response to “Selene at the Science Museum”

  1. Of course, as John Barrow pointed out in his talk at the Royal Society yesterday, one of the most interesting things about those earthrise pics is that we’re all in them! Freaky…

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