Published: 06:00, 06 February 2020
| Updated: 12:24, 12 February 2020
If you've ever wondered whether the moon is made of cheese now's your chance to inspect it close up.
The groundbreaking Museum of the Moon, which comes to Rochester Cathedral next week, is a 7-metre replica of the awesome astronomical body, which has been created using high definition lunar imagery from NASA. It will be suspended over the medieval nave for three weeks, including half term.
It's part of a touring exhibition by artist Luke Jerram which has wowed the world wherever it has gone.
Luke said of using NASA images: "I wanted to make the artwork seem as authentic and realistic as possible. For most people, this will be their most intimate, personal and closest encounter they will ever have with the moon."
He said: "Cycling to work each day over the river to work, reminded me that it’s the gravitational pull of the Moon that’s making this happen. I had the idea to create the Museum of the Moon some 15 years ago, but it was only until very recently that the data for creating the moon imagery was made available by NASA.
"As a child I always wanted a telescope so I could study the Moon and the night’s sky. Now with my own moon, I can fly there, study every detail and share this experience with the public. We can also explore the far side of the moon which is never visible from Earth."
He said that moon had been considered at times in history as everything from a god to a planet and has been used as a timekeeper, calendar and to aid night time navigation. He added: "Throughout history the moon has inspired artists, poets, scientists, writers and musicians the world over. The ethereal blue light cast by a full moon, the delicate crescent following the setting sun, or the mysterious dark side of the moon has evoked passion and exploration."
He said of the reaction to the work, which took him six months to create: "It’s been wonderful to witness the publics’ response to the artwork. Many people spend hours with the moon exploring its every detail. Some visitors lie down and moon-bathe. In Leicester one young girl asked “will you put the moon back afterwards?” She thought I’d stolen the real moon!"
To date, more than 3million people have seen it around the world. It is presented alongside specially composed surround sound music by Dan Jones.
The Museum of the Moon opens at Rochester Cathedral on Wednesday, February 12 until Wednesday, March 4. Details at rochestercathedral.org
The Museum of the Moon is the latest in a series of exciting pop-up events hosted by Rochester Cathedral.
They include crazy golf in the Nave last summer, which turned out to be popular with visitors. In September, The Knife Angel, a 25ft statue made of 100,00 confiscated blades came to the cathedral's gardens.
It has meant that the cathedral had its busiest year on record with more than 283,000 people visiting - an increase of 23% on 2018. The Knife Angel, a national monument against knife violence and aggression, attracted more than 44,000 visitors in 28 days.
Vice Dean, Rev Christopher Dench, said: “We are absolutely delighted to be hosting this stunning and awe-inspiring art work. The cathedral is a place where we welcome everyone to come and think, explore and contemplate their place in the world and the lives of others. This installation is the perfect complement to this, giving us all the opportunity to wonder and ponder on the beauty and scale of God’s creation and our role within it.”
Dean of Rochester, The Very Rev’d Philip Hesketh added: "Rochester Cathedral is a generous space proclaiming the wideness in God’s love. I’m delighted that increasing numbers of people are discovering that the Cathedral’s embrace includes them’.
There will also be some family events around the museum at half term. A Toddler Trail on Thursday, February 13, will be a chance for pre-schoolers to explore the moon, at £1.50 per child.
On Monday, February 17, Make a Moon Mobile will suit ages four and above and costs £3. Find out more at rochestercathedral.org/