26th Milton Keynes Coniston Cubs had a blast of a time as they went on a journey through space on an augmented reality astronomy trail at the Walnut Tree Sports Grounds.

Using the Love Exploring app, Coniston Cubs went on a space adventure to ‘visit’ all eight planets in our solar system. Most Coniston Cubs already have their Cubs Astronomer Activity badge from their space-themed Cubs session and visit to the OU George Abell Observatory last term, so this session was just for fun (rather than for badges) and a fantastic opportunity to have fun as a group, fire up the neurons to answer space quiz questions and consolidate knowledge, as well as go on a night- hike with glow sticks galore.

Augmented reality space adventure

The first stop of Coniston Cubs’ space journey was Neptune and there were many ‘oohs!’ as Cubs saw the augmented reality (AR) animation of this space trail for the first time. Coniston Cubs discovered that it is not possible to see Neptune with the naked eye from our planet Earth, and that even if they wanted to visit Neptune for real, it would take 280 years to do so… perhaps one day a Coniston Cub member may become a rocket scientist and we could all get there quicker!

Space trail at Walnut Tree Sports Ground. Coniston Cub pack in the dark with two AR planets: Neptune and Uranus.
Embarking on a galactic adventure within MK

Three super brainiacs (including Drew’s mum) got the correct answer to the quiz question at our second stop at planet Uranus, which was all about William Herschel naming it the ‘Georgian Star’ after King George III.

At the third stop, Coniston Cubs were in awe again as they ‘held’ the super large AR animation of Saturn planet in their arms. Coniston Cubs debated and decided correctly that Saturn has a whopping 60+ moons. Coniston Cubs also discovered that the rusty-red colour of Mars is due to iron.

Space trail at Walnut Tree Sports Ground. Coniston Cub pack in the dark with two AR planets Saturn, and answering quiz questions.
Gigantic AR Saturn wowed the whole Coniston Cub pack

Much laughter was had at Jupiter because Coniston Cubs not only discovered the space fact that visible bands of Jupiter are caused by clouds of ammonia, but a whole host of other weird and wonderful facts about ammonia thanks to Cubs and leaders alike. Facts: ammonia-related chemicals are used to bleach teeth white, fish wee ammonia and lots of it, and ancient Romans used to clean their togas and make them white using ammonia from urine!

Space trail at Walnut Tree Sports Ground. Coniston Cub pack in the dark with AR planet Jupiter. Hands up ready to answer questions.
Amazing ammonia facts of all sorts at planet Jupiter

Next stop was home as Coniston Cubs landed on Earth. All Cubs knew the answer to the quiz question for Earth, which was about the fact that 71% of Earth is covered in water. Well done everyone!

Space trail at Walnut Tree Sports Ground. Coniston Cub pack in the dark with AR planets Earth and Venus.
Home sweet home on planet Earth and Venus (Earth’s sister)

Planet Venus presented all Coniston Cubs with one of the trickiest quiz questions of the evening and this was about alternative names for Venus. It turns out that two possible answers include ‘Earth’s Sister’ and ‘The Shadow Star’.

The final two stop was Mercury, which is the smallest planet in our solar system. Much discussion was then had about why Pluto is no longer considered a planet.

Space trail at Walnut Tree Sports Ground. Coniston Cub pack in the dark with a close up of AR planet Mercury and the AR spacecraft for the adventure.
Coniston Cubs at their end of their starry mission about their spacecraft at Mercury

Star constellations and planets for real

To celebrate the successful space adventure mission, the finale for Coniston Cubs was some well-earned chill-time with star watching (albeit in the orange halo of MK light pollution) to identify star constellations that included Draco and Pegasus using the Star Walk 2 app. Coniston Cubs identified Orion constellation and the bright yellow blob that was Jupiter in the night sky. The Cub pack also saw the bright orange moon, what a perfect way to end a spectacular space adventure!

After challenging all the brain cells with the planetary quiz, ‘jet thrusters’ that blasted the pack into AR space, and the concentration of constellation spotting, Coniston Cubs had a fantastic time playing team games to round up the end of the session. Great fun was had by all intrepid explorers!

Astronomical shout outs

Thank you so much to the parents who volunteered to help with this Coniston Cubs session – a big shout-out and thank you to Drew’s mum, Freddie’s mum, Mohi’s dad, Markel’s mum, and Adwita’s dad. Thank you also to Cubs who helped with the quiz questions, including Cub Arpit. Well done!