With Mr Lapage as our clock expert and Mr Adams to make sure we were still being educated on the subject about which we set out to learn, this year’s GCSE Astronomy trip was set to be a success. At 11:30 last Saturday, with only a KH packed lunch each on which to survive, we began our quest for astronomical knowledge.
Our first stop was at the National Space Museum. I, never having a clue what’s going on, thought we were in London already and that I had slept the whole journey. Only after we had set off for the hotel did Mr Adams tell us we had another two hours to go. Inside the museum were some great exhibits; the highlight was a huge planetarium/cinema with a dome-shaped screen. From our chairs we could look up at the “sky” and listen to Rupert Grint talk about something he obviously has no idea about. Another great feature was the Rocket Tower which was, as the name suggested, a huge tower with two fifty-metre high spacecraft beside it. Using the lift, we scaled the structure and explored the various exhibits on each floor.
A few hours later, we arrived at the hotel; I was surprised at how good it was. We each got a two-man bedroom with free Wi-Fi (probably the highlight of the trip for a certain Josh Wong). After getting ourselves comfortable in our new rooms, we went for dinner at Café Rouge, where we enjoyed the break from KH food as well as talking to the teachers about, well, all kinds of topics.
We started the next day by walking up a hill to the world-renowned Royal Greenwich Observatory; at the top we got an amazing view of the London skyline; Canary Wharf, the new Shard, the Olympic stadium and the O2 Arena were all visible. Inside we looked at how the most accurate clocks ever made were created, with working examples. Hand-made masterpieces which could even account for temperature changes that would have been experienced by seamen were on show, as well as the more modern atomic clocks. After a snack at the observatory café, we once again entered a planetarium. Although it was much smaller than the previous one, we were given a tour of the sky by a live commentator who actually knew where to find the pole star.
Moving on to the less topical Maritime Museum, we had lunch while taking on the challenge of driving a virtual ship into the docks of New York, eventually getting beached. It seemed that seamanship was not really for any of us. After a quick tour around an 18th century trade ship, we departed from the capital and made our way back to School. Stopping on the way back for a burger, we agreed it had been a successful trip and both the teachers had been great lads for the whole two days.
Finn McCormack (Ch, IV)
Pictured below: back row (l to r)- Finn McCormack, Billy McHale, Sam Mitchell; middle - Joshua Wong;
front row (l to r) Tom Dodd, Sasha Arridge