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Lunar visitors

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This Guest Blog was written by our Visitor Services Assistants at Crawick Multiverse; Erin and Dane.

From June 16th to 21st, Dumfries and Galloway had the honour of hosting over 150 members of the lunar community for the annual European Lunar Symposium (ELS). The event took place at The Crichton in Dumfries, welcoming delegates from around the globe, including representatives from NASA, ESA, and the UKSA. These experts gathered to exchange ideas and discuss the latest findings in lunar exploration.

As part of the week’s events, two groups of scientists visited Crawick Multiverse on Wednesday, June 19th. They received a guided tour of the site and learned about Charles Jencks’ vision for transforming the old open-cast coal mine into a land art installation symbolising cosmological theories. Our guests appreciated Charles’ ability to translate complex scientific and cosmological ideas into expressive and artistic forms.

Among the visitors were some of the world’s leading lunar scientists, including Greg Schmidt (below), Director of the Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI) at NASA Ames Research Center. Greg, a co-founder of the NASA Ames Space Portal, has been instrumental in developing the science of astrobiology since the late 1990s.

We were also thrilled to host Rick and Mary Armstrong (above), the son and daughter-in-law of Neil Armstrong, the first man on the Moon. They explored Neil Armstrong’s ties to the area, visiting Gilnockie Tower and Langholm, the ancestral home of Clan Armstrong, and stopping at Drumlanrig Castle to see a tree planted by Neil Armstrong in 1972. We shared with them a picture from the local Sanquhar Tolbooth museum showing Neil Armstrong shaking hands with the Sanquhar Provost during his 1972 visit to Langholm (above).

Our esteemed visitors were also interested in learning about local history and heritage, as well as meeting our local young people and Visitor Services Assistants who guided them.

They were particularly excited to hear about Erin’s visit to the Johnson Space Center in Texas in 2018 during her time at Sanquhar Academy. Erin shared her experiences of participating in robotics and rocket building, and they discussed the facilities she toured, including the Mission Control Center, Space Vehicle Mock-up Facility, and astronaut training facilities like the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory.

In addition to sharing the history of Crawick Multiverse and the theories behind its land art installations, we also gained valuable insights from our visitors. Bethany Elhmann, a geologist and Principal Investigator of NASA’s Lunar Trailblazer, offered a theory on the source of the ‘Sunspots’ within the stones of the Solar Flare and Earth Shield Installation in the Sun Amphitheatre. She suggested these could be Liesegang rings, formed when mineral-rich water diffuses through porous rock and reacts with substances in the rock, creating distinct, concentric bands. These rings appear as coloured or shaded layers within the rock, and this explanation matched the appearance of the markings on the Solar Flare artwork.

It was great to be able to share and swap knowledge with these brilliant minds and hear about some of the cutting-edge lunar science that is currently being undertaken! We thoroughly enjoyed hosting them during their visit as part of the 2024 European Lunar Symposium.

ELS was organised by The Open University in Scotland and supported by local partners; The Crichton Trust, Crawick Multiverse Trust, The Crichton Foundation, South of Scotland Enterprise and South of Scotland Destination Alliance. Cathy Agnew, Trustee, represented Crawick Multiverse on the ELS Organising Committee.

Photos by Allan Devlin

This project is part-financed by the Scottish Government and the European Union – LEADER 2014-2020 programme
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