Let’s use the Towns Fund to Reach for the Stars

After 50 years of successfully delivering its programme of astronomy-related events at its Sherwood Observatory, MSAS now wants to create a Science Discovery Centre & Planetarium. Over 20,000 local people and tourists will visit each year for exhibitions, events, planetarium shows and cinema screenings. STEM based learning sessions will help build the pipeline of talent in the local area, increasing prosperity and delivering a definite win-win for everyone. A feasibility study showed that a disused underground Victorian reservoir could be used for this and business plan and Economic Impact Assessment has shown the potential benefits to the local area and visitor economy. If the Towns fund could provide some of the capital this could leverage a significant contribution from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

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30 comments on “Let’s use the Towns Fund to Reach for the Stars

  1. I recently took my Polish cub group to the observatory. They really enjoyed the interactive presentation as well as being able to look through the telescope at the stars and planets. The new plan would allow more groups to have even better opportunities in getting involved with astronomy.

  2. Okay so MSAS has building that can be converted into a Planetarium that’s great, but where’s the nearest cinema, theatre conference centre…….well that can be in the same building.
    We can apply for special permits to show the latest movie or show and can appeal to business delegates as a local meeting point and right next door to a golf club

    This will truly be a massive enhancement to the surrounding regions, what is not to like

  3. From a U3A point of view this facility has got to be one of the best around. Our Southwell group have always been welcomed with excellent talks and a chance to observe the night sky through the observatory telescope. The thing that lets it down is the current lecture room (too small and on a single level). Once funding has been agreed upon (being positive here) and the planetarium constructed with high tech lecturing facilities it would put Mansfield and Sutton in a premier position for school visits and anyone interested in astronomy.

  4. As someone working in education, your proposed planetarium would make you the staple place to visit across the county and beyond. The new OFSTED framework iterates that schools will be judged on their deliverance of a wider curriculum – this planetarium would capture all of that in a single trip. The hands on experience which you will offer marks it as something different to larger experiences such as the National Space Centre. I have no doubt you will be inundated with bookings should you be successful in your funding applications as ‘Earth and Space’ is a core topic that every school will be teaching in KS2.

  5. I am a Cub Scout Leader and frequently take up to 30 eight to ten and a half year-old boys & girls (and some parents) to the old observatory for an incredibly valuable and educational experience they just won’t get from anywhere else and which they never forget thanks to the very knowledgeable and motivated volunteers and staff there. In my view, activities such as these are crucial to the education, training and personal development of the people, in particular the young people it serves and there is no more a deserving a cause for investment in further development to build on the excellent service such a facility already provides to the community and to its users.

  6. Our Cubs and Scouts have been visiting Sherwood Observatory for a number of years and it is, without doubt, one of the activities that most impresses and interests our young people and remains in their memory. The staff are extremely knowledgeable and have always given an informative account of all things astral!

    A Science Discovery Centre & Planetarium would be an excellent development and would enhance the Observatory’s mission to promote astronomical science to the masses – especially to young people and budding scientists of the future.

  7. This would be just the ticket to take Sherwood Observatory’s efforts to the next level. The current site is starting to show its limitations for catering to the number of people who come to every open evening. This current project will allow for a significant expansion of activities and draw even more people to the area.

    Also, a planetarium would allow viewing of the stars all year round so there wouldn’t be the worries of dealing with the UK weather or light pollution, which has deteriorated significantly since the observatory was built.

  8. A small amount of money from the Towns Fund will UNLOCK EVEN MORE MATCHING MONEY FROM THE HERITAGE LOTTERY FUND. It will likely more than double any money given so we get even more money coming into the area, what more is there to say? Will any other ideas expand the size of the Towns Fund pot with extra money?

    Having visited Kielder Observatory in Northumberland often over 10 years, I have seen how these projects grow and grow when given a chance. And I would judge that Mansfield are much more dedicated, just look at what they have achieved in the last few years in expanding the observatory on a shoe string and what they have done in the last 50 years. The telescope is huge, bigger than Kielder’s and just a advanced i controlling it. Look to Kielder as a model of what Sherwood Observatory would be in the next 5 or so years.

    Give Sherwood Observatory the the money requested and stand well back to see the transformation that they will bring. Don’t miss this chance.

  9. Having visited the observatory recently it’s easy to pick up the enthusiasm that inhabits the current facilities. Star gazing can be as simple or as complicated as time, enthusiasm and facilities allow. Expanding on the existing plot would offer opportunities across the age and ability range to be just a little ‘out of this world’ and to share a beautiful form of science.

  10. This could be an amazing opportunity for the East Midlands, I recently took my scout group to go and visit the observatory and we we welcomed by the MSAS with huge smiles and the whole group were blown away and this project would benefit children as they could learn about what is above them in a state of the art planetarium.

  11. This is a great suggestion…our scouts, cubs and Beavers use the current observatory regularly for badge work and always have a great educational time…extending the capabilities and facilities will only improve this experience

  12. What a wonderful idea! The Observatory at present is successfully involved with all types of educational and outreach programmes, and is very popular with the public at hosting stargazing evenings and solar days. This is a great leap forward, and will appeal to young and old alike. Supporting the Schools National Curriculum, it will be a valuable asset in helping to inspire and train our future scientists and engineers. When tourists visit Sherwood Forest or Nottingham Castle, their next port of call could be “The Science Discovery Centre,Planetarium and Observatory” at Sutton in Ashfield, bringing additional revenue, visitors, and jobs, to our area. Without a doubt, this concept will be a great heritage for our children (and their children too).

  13. These facilities will be of great service to the community of Sutton-in-Ashfield and beyond. The volunteers are very committed and passionate about the observatory and the plans for the planetarium, and are truly deserving of attention and respect for the work that they continue to do. The team at Mansfield and Sutton Astronomical Society are very effective in interesting and engaging the public and our youth in science, and in promoting careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEMs).

  14. Science Centre and a Planetarium in Nottinghamshire would be an inspiration to the regions schools families and visitors from afar. Interactive and visual experience provided by the centre exhibitions and lifelike projection of the night sky no longer seen from cities or towns should not be only available by travel South outside the County

  15. What is not to like about the possibility of having a Science Discovery Centre combined with a ‘state of the art’ Planetarium and Observatory in the Sutton area!
    Imagine the impact such an inspiring place could have on the imaginations of all the young (and not so young!) minds in the surrounding area. It would draw visitors from near and far and promote science, space and astronomy, and on that basis I believe it would become a great local asset.

  16. This project would be of huge importance to the town of Sutton’s ability to provide a source of stem learning, provision of facilities for the the young people of today to discover astronomy and also its local history.
    Not forgetting it will be a great source of learning for the adult population.
    I feel this project would be a huge asset to the town in future, so help is of great help to move forward with it.

  17. As a founder member of MSAS I am hopeful of seeing a dream come true. From the very beginning we envisaged this project along with Radio Astronomy, which is now up and running. Many years spent building the observatory followed by constructing the 24″ telescope and producing the main mirror is quite an achievement enabling the society to keep the local community up to date with events astronomical.
    As probably the fastest growing science it is our function to keep this area fully informed about the universe in which we live.

  18. This would be a tremendous addition to what is already a fantastic facility.
    The recycling of the old Victorian reservoir is a brilliant idea and I believe that it would benefit the whole community for many years to come.

  19. This is a great idea, utilising a redundant Victorian engineered building to make an excellent learning fertility for the area. Gets my vote.

  20. This would be an excellent educational resource for children, supplementing and extending the science taught in the national curriculum, stimulating and harnessing their natural curiosity, reinforcing the importance of the scientific method, empowering them to understand, appreciate, and help improve the world they live in.

  21. What a brilliant way of recycling our own industrial heritage; a superb Victorian water reservoir into a planetarium … ingenious! An exciting opportunity to create a centre point of excellence from practical learning in our local area … I support it whole-heartily

  22. Exploring our surrounding universe is both inspiring and probably one of humankind’s most challenging venture. Over past centuries up until the present day, we have amassed knowledge that provides perspective about stellar structures across our own as well as in distant galaxies. Nearer to home we are trying to set foot on neighbouring planets within our Solar System. Mastering aeronautical flight enabled us to traverse Earth with ease, albeit with certain cautions. Spaceflight, however, presents challenges many orders of magnitude greater than we have achieved thusfar. We have indeed set
    foot on our Moon and launched probes around Earth and across our Solar System. Galactic space is unimaginably immense and almost beyond our comprehension.

    Nevertheless it is possible to use equipment to look some of the astounding objects out there at relatively modest cost. MSAS’ Science Discovery Centre & Planetarium project will enable those in all age groups to understand how humans fit into the universal scheme. Successful completion of this facility will be both unique and of immense value to our local community.

  23. This would certainly place a pin on the map for a high quality STEM experience, and the more of these pins, the more attractive the area will be both to visitors, and to families looking to make a new home.

    I believe this is a harmonious and rare opportunity where the Towns Fund can bring dreams alive.

    You will want to tick this box! […]

  24. A great idea to combine education and science with a much needed local attraction. Together with the Space Centre in Leicester it would mark the East Midlands as leaders in the space industry.

    I wish something like this had been around when my children were younger.

  25. I believe that a planetarium would have a huge positive impact on the young and not so young in our society, who doesn’t dream of being an astronaut and who knows where an experience, in a state of the art planetarium will lead to .

  26. This could be a real game changer for the town – it would definitely get my vote!.

    Not only could a centre like this deliver a great new place to go (can’t wait to visit – when will it open?!), but it would also spread the benefits through to local businesses as visitors often use local facilities, petrol stations, shops, cafes, etc.

    But what interests me more tis that this centre could also offer so much to the next generation. STEM is critical to the town’s moves to develop new, high quality jobs that help attract people to live and work in the area. Helping today’s youngsters get high quality STEM experience could encourage more of today’s school kids chose STEM subjects as well. This could help offer an economic future to them.

    It would be great if this could be funded from the Towns Fund because it could then bring in more funding to the area – definitely a project that delivers bang for buck!

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