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Journey into space … by taking the train to a Planetarium

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Did you watch the BBC’s Stargazing Live series? If Professor Brian Cox and the gang have got you all starry-eyed, head off to one of the UK’s planetariums for an experience that’s out of this world.

Read on to find out which of them make our five-star selection – and checking our journey planner for cheap rail tickets is a great way to avoid astronomical petrol prices.

1. Take the train to Leicester … and visit the National Space Centre

Not only does Leicester’s National Space Centre feature the largest planetarium in the UK, it’s also packed with interactive space-themed exhibits to keep the whole family entertained.

The planetarium itself – or Space Theatre – offers a programme of 360 degree digital shows, featuring cutting-edge video, sound and CGI technology, immersing you in the amazing world of astronomy. And, you can also explore the rest of the National Space Centre to find out more about everything from planets and black holes to what it feels like to be an astronaut on a space mission.

Getting there’s fuss-free too – just jump on a train to Leicester, and take a bus or taxi to the National Space Centre.

2. Take the train to London … and visit the Peter Harrison Planetarium

The Peter Harrison Planetarium at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, is the only planetarium in London, making it a capital hot spot for the celestially curious.

Take the train to London to see a show or two in Europe’s first digital laser planetarium, and then explore the Royal Observatory’s astronomy galleries. And if you’re visiting the Big Smoke soon, you can catch the Astronomy Photographer of the Year Exhibition too – it’s being held at the Royal Observatory and runs until 12 February 2012.

You can make the most of your trip by checking out the other attractions at the Royal Observatory too – stand on the Greenwich Meridian Line, discover more about the history of time keeping, see London’s only camera obscura and take a look at the UK’s largest refracting telescope.

3. Take the train to Glasgow … and visit the Glasgow Science Centre

Glasgow Science Centre’s Planetarium uses fibre optic technology to give you a crystal clear view of the stars in the middle of the day. And for an even closer look at wonders like the Orion nebula and the dying Betelgeuse – which will one day go supernova – remember to pack your binoculars before you head to the station to catch the train to Glasgow.

You can also explore the rest of the centre too – there are three floors of interactive science exhibits and a Science Show Theatre, so you’ll find enough to keep you engaged all day. And if you’re a music fan, make sure to look out for Stellar Sounds at the Planetarium – where bands perform in darkness, under the stars.

4. Take the train to Liverpool … and visit the World Museum

Jump on a train to Liverpool and head to the city’s newly refurbished Planetarium at the World Museum.

Due to re-open in February, the Planetarium will feature state-of-the-art digital projectors, giving you a fully immersive experience. And what’s more, the shows are free of charge too, so it’s the perfect destination for budget-conscious space buffs.

There are plenty of other exhibits to see at the museum too, including an aquarium, bug house, and World Culture and Ancient Worlds galleries.

5. Take the train to Bristol … and visit At-Bristol

Get your family on board a train to Bristol and you could be enjoying some stellar entertainment in At-Bristol’s Planetarium. The planetarium’s programme includes shows for all ages – so you can explore space whether you’re 9 or 90.

At-Bristol also has a whole host of interactive for budding scientists, so it’s the ideal choice for anyone wanting to sneak some extra education in during a fun family day out.

Are you a seasoned star-gazer? Which planetarium is your favourite? Let us know…

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