Wednesday, 22 November 2017
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education

May 2017

To celebrate the launch of Spacebase, W5’s new multi-sensory activity zone for three to 11-year-olds, this issue we are discovering the history of space...

Before the Big Bang there was nothing at all. No galaxies, no stars, no planets and no life. No time, no space, no light and no sound. Then suddenly, it all began. Almost 14 billion years ago, this Big Bang created the amazing place we call our universe.

Bits from the blast formed tiny things called atoms, which made gas and dust. In these swirling clouds of colour, the first stars were born. Over time, trillions of stars
lit up the universe. Like us, stars are born, grow old and die. Unlike us, they live for billions of years, so many of these first stars still sparkle today.
During their lifetimes, stars twinkle in rainbow colours. The hottest look blue-ish, while cooler stars are white, yellow and red. Some are giants but others are smaller, called dwarfs. Dwarf red stars
are the most common of all.

A very long time after the Big Bang, a bright yellow star, our Sun, was born.
This burning ball of gas is so huge that over a million Earths would fit inside it. Close to the Sun, dust formed the rocky planets of Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars. In the icy blackness far from the Sun’s warm glow, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune were made from dust swirling with gas and ice. All these new planets whizzed at breathtaking speeds around their yellow star. Our solar system had been born.

Astronomers first explored space by gazing at the stars – and invented telescopes to help them study the skies. Eventually scientists worked out how to escape Earth’s gravity – by blasting off in a rocket. The Space Race had begun…

Soon, spaceships will be built so that people can rocket off on holiday, and astronauts hope to land and survive on Mars. No one knows what we will find as we unravel the mysteries of the extraordinary place we call space.

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