The evening started with a private reception in the Colombia Shuttle Suite where all the prizewinners and their guests got the chance to meet the EO Detective team and Libby Jackson, Astronaut Flight Education Programme Manager at the UK Space Agency. While we tucked into a buffet provided by the Space Centre’s catering team, Professor John Remedios, Director of the National Centre for Earth Observation and chair of the judges, explained how difficult the competition had been to judge and congratulated everyone present. He also spoke about the importance of Earth Observation, referring to some images on display in the room – although the prizes were hidden away so that no one got to see them before the person they were meant for.
There was time for everyone to explore the main galleries, or attend one of the talks given as part of the World Space Evening event, before we reassembled in the planetarium for the EO Detective quiz. A capacity audience saw some stunning images of the Earth from space and, every time the lights on the arms of their seats sparkled, pressed a button to answer a question shown on the screen. Although 2% of them couldn’t tell the difference between Tim Peake and Buzz Lightyear, most people got most questions right, with only a fascinating picture of a plankton bloom in the the ocean fooling more than half of the audience.
Libby spoke briefly about aims of the Principia education programme and the impact of Tim’s mission before presenting the prizes for each age category in turn. John described the judges’ reasons for choosing each of the winners, explaining why they thought each of the locations would reveal something interesting.
But the young people and their families (and teachers, in some cases) had to wait a little longer to get a good view of their prizes, for we remained in the planetarium for a tour of the night sky before leaving, blinking in the light, for a photocall by the globe. Many of the prizewinners had questions to ask about their images so there was much pointing out of detail and explanation before everyone carried on exploring or headed home.
The EO Detective team would like to thank everyone who helped to make the evening memorable especially Libby, Tamela and her team at the National Space Centre, PrintServices at the University of Leicester, and The Picture Gallery and Framing Service who supplied us with additional frames and mounts in double-quick time.