Our first trip to the Planetarium was a lot of fun and pretty much perfect for a toddler-plus-baby audience (unlike our badly planned Astronomy Centre trip a few months ago).
We went to see Space Safari, a half hour show aimed at under-7s. This show has been on since 2013, so maybe you’ve already seen it. If you haven’t, it’s a good rainy day out for small space enthusiasts.
Without giving too many spoilers, the show features beautiful, glowing images of the solar system, with a weird floating teddy bear that looks like it was drawn in a 90s computer programme. There’s a simple story about searching for Ted’s friend and songs (sung sweetly but often incomprehensibly by schoolchildren). The balance of hard space facts and where’s-the-bear? worked well for the child audience.
The show has live narration by an astronomer who was really good at meeting the needs of toddlers on our visit – for example, starting by getting everyone used to the immersive experience of being under a dome-shaped screen by giving a light show one colour at a time, gently getting the audience used to it being ‘really dark’… His language was simple and he asked a few audience-participation questions. He was also available to answer individual questions after the show.
You could probably take quite a range of ages to this show and all have fun. The length of the show (25 mins) was good for toddlers, as was the pace (quickly moving from planet to planet, a mix of songs and simple narrative, the weird Ted popping up at regular intervals). The experience of being in the Planetarium cinema is very exciting too. Finn (2.5) liked the search-for-the bear story and seeing his favourite planets; Little B (0.5) enjoyed all the moving lights and colours. Slightly older children would get more out of the space-facts bit.
Space Safari, the Planetarium’s special show for under-7s. 25 minutes or so of live-narrated, beautiful film of the solar system, plus expressionless teddy bear.
11.00 every day in the holidays, until 2nd September. Then 11.00 at weekends only until 25th September, when it finishes.
The Planetarium is in the Astronomy Centre, next to the Royal Observatory at the top of the hill in Greenwich Park. See my review of the Astronomy Centre. It’s a bit of a walk from Cutty Sark DLR station.
£7.50 for adults, £6.50 concessions, £5.50 children 3-15, Free to under-3s and members.
Facilities and access
The Astronomy Centre is buggy and wheelchair accessible, with lifts. There’s a buggy park outside the Planetarium cinema, which you can only use while you’re watching the show (not while going round the Astronomy Centre). There’s baby changing in the accessible loo and a small cafe with highchairs available.