Posted: Mon 10th Oct 2016

Out of this World event! /
This article is old - Published: Monday, Oct 10th, 2016

Residents of all ages enjoyed an “out of this world” experience in Treorchy this weekend, thanks to a stellar partnership between Rhondda Cynon Taf Council and Dark Sky Wales. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Former NASA astronaut Al Worden, who flew in the Apollo 15 missions, treated audiences to a night of exploration and experience at the Park and Dare Theatre in Treorchy. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The once-in-a-lifetime event was made possible thanks to the work of Dark Sky Wales, supported by Rhondda Cynon Taf. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The county borough is a Dark Sky Wales pioneer site and offers some of the best star-gazing opportunities in the UK, thanks to a range of mountain-tops, country parks and even pub gardens that offer optimum conditions to enjoy the sky at night. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The evening with Al Worden forms part of an ongoing programme of events to bring star-gazing to as many people as possible. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Cllr Robert Bevan, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet member for Economic Development, Tourism and Planning, said: “It’s not every day you see a NASA astronaut make an appearance in Treorchy and we are so pleased so many people attended to enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“Al Worden was fascinating, open and funny and we have had lots of positive feedback from those who enjoyed the evening. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“Rhondda Cynon Taf is a Dark Sky Wales pioneer site, which means we have some of the first and the best Dark Sky locations in the UK. They have secured accreditation because of the optimum star-gazing opportunities they provide. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“We work with Dark Sky Wales to offer free family events that allow people of all ages and interests to get involved and take advantage of the opportunities we provide for star-gazers.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Al Worden flew in from Florida for the evening and, before the main show, thrilled local children who were given a chance to meet him in the afternoon and find out more about his missions to the moon and what it feels like to be the most isolated man on the planet. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

With stunning pictures, humorous stories and incredible insights Al Worden encouraged the children to reach for the stars and take advantage of the star-gazing opportunities that are on their doorstep. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The event also provided an excellent start to Fostering RCT’s Sons and Daughters month, which runs for the whole of October to celebrate the contribution the sons and daughters of foster carers make to the lives of looked-after children who join their family. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Foster carers, their sons and daughters and the children they care for were invited to the event, offering them the chance to meet an astronaut and be inspired by a man who knows what it is like to be the most isolated man on the planet – he holds the World Record for it! ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Following the afternoon event for young people, hundreds of people packed into the theatre for an evening with Al Worden, enjoying his tales, seeing artefacts from his space travel and more. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Al Worden is one of only seven men in the history of humanity to spend time alone in orbit around the moon while they colleagues walked on the lunar surface. When on the far side of the moon, these men in orbit were completely out of contact and further from Earth than anyone has been before. He was also the first man to moonwalk in deep space. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

As a command module pilot, Al Worden flew to the moon in 1971 as part of the Apolllo 15 mission. During his time alone on the command while colleagues Dave Scott and Jim Irwin landed on the moon, he entered the Guinness World of Records as the “most isolated human being ever”. At time his companions were 2,235 miles away from him. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

His tales of spending three days completely alone and in orbit around the moon, above the Earth, gave him some magical memories and experiences which he shared in Treorchy. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

To a soundtrack of the Beatles, Elton John, Blue Danube Waltz (anthem of the film 2001: A Space Odyssey) and John Denver, Al Worden would look at the billions of stars around him. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

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