Spaceport exhibits

To boldly go

Space exploration on the banks of the Mersey

An historic ferry terminal on the banks of the River Mersey might seem an unlikely place to uncover the wonders of the universe but thanks to the Spaceport Visitor Centre, this is where in excess of 70,000 people each year take an inspirational journey to explore the evolution of stars and the mysteries of distant galaxies.

Opened in 2005, Spaceport is a joint venture between Liverpool John Moores University and Merseytravel, a leading organisation in the region for travel and tourism initiatives. It fulfils LJMU's vision to make astronomy, space exploration and its own research accessible to as wide an audience as possible and Merseytravels’ aim of regenerating an area along the banks of the Mersey.

Spaceport’s combination of cutting edge astronomy, educational exhibits/support material and constantly refreshed content means that it regularly exceeds visitor number predictions. It has also created an estimated 50 new jobs and brought in excess of £2 million per year into a regeneration area.

Spaceport draws on the expertise of LJMU’s Astrophysics Research Institute (ARI), one of the top institutions in the world for astronomical research. The ARI developed and operates the worlds’ largest fully robotic telescope, is at the forefront of numerous major international astronomical projects and is a world leader in the study of transient astronomical phenomena, such as Supernovae.

Astronomers from the ARI have been involved in the design of Spaceport from its conception. Their ongoing participation has ensured that the Centre remains up-to-date with new exhibits linking directly to LJMU’s astronomical research and special events featuring LJMU astronomers.

For example, the hugely popular annual Merseyside Astronomy Day is run by and features ARI staff as guest speakers. ‘The Observatory’ – a new £75,000 interactive exhibit funded by LJMU and devised by ARI researchers – allows visitors to interact with the latest educational data from the LT. Spaceport is also a key element of the ARI’s schools outreach programme with schoolchildren making up more than half of Spaceport’s visitors in recent years.

Find out more about the research and outreach projects of the Astrophysics Research Institute.

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