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They say the weather’s going to be unpredictable over the weekend, so here are some ideas for indoor and outdoor ventures.

 

  1. zebra-butterfly.jpgButterflies in the house. Wing your way to our Butterfly Explorers exhibition. Just this week some beautiful new species have arrived. The vibrant zebra butterflies are already making their presence felt in the butterfly house and the shy glasswings are still hiding out, but in about 9 weeks these will be much more noticeable. Did you know the zebra butterfly (right) was declared the Florida State Butterfly? And that if you ever decided to eat a glasswing it would have a nasty taste (due to the poisonous sap it sucks on heliotrope leaves). Inside the butterfly house, the vegetation is thriving with bright bromelias and milkweed. Also look out for the peanut plants, a hit with the blue morpho caterpillars. Outside in the British garden, all the border seedlings and nasturtiums are really starting to show. Kids are loving the outdoor treehouse, log pile house and maze in the garden area. So let’s hope the sun shines for some of the weekend.
  2. Butterflies in the cocoon. Continuing on the butterfly theme, and to check that you’ve actually learned something at Butterfly Explorers, head into the magnificent Darwin Centre Cocoon and spend some time at the ‘Organising nature’ butterfly interactive display. Have fun using the touch screen to play at identifying butterfly species. There are lots of fun interactive games and displays in the Darwin Centre. At the Darwin Centre you can also catch a family show or talk in the Attenborough Studio, so check what's on. Browse the Darwin Centre Cocoon highlights on our website.
  3. Wildlife in the garden. This is one of the best times to explore the Museum's Wildlife Garden and after the last 2 weeks of sunshine and recent rain, it's really a pretty sight with the apple blossom and bluebells. The latest excitement in the garden is that a family of foxes and little cubs have been spotted recently, but we can't say where as we wouldn't want them disturbed.fossil-festival-beach.jpg
  4. Life's a beach for a fossil fan. Discover the Jurassic Coast at the free Lyme Regis Fossil Festival (above). Over 20 of our Museum scientists will be there identifying fossils, and leading talks and walks. This popular family event mixes science with music and the arts, on the beach. 'Dead...And Alive!' is the theme of this year's festival, which celebrates the 2010 International Year of Biodiversity. Find fossils in fossil digs, go on 'fossilteering' walks and learn about the seashore. We celebrate some extraordinary fossils in our Species of the Day this weekend.
  5. Walk on the wild side of Brighton. Head down to Brighton seafront and experience our free Wild Planet outdoor exhibition featuring some of the best wildlife images in the world. 80 panels make up this stunning promenade display of winning photographs from past Wildlife Photographer of the Year competitions.
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Aliens in the Attenborough Studio

Posted by Rose Apr 27, 2010

ufo-landing-red.jpgHelp us decide if we should be preparing to meet ET and aliens now, rather than later, at our Nature Live Night on Thursday 29 April

 

Is There Anybody Out There? is the subject of our Nature Live Night evening debate this week on 29 April and is a must for anyone interested in other planets and the possibility of extra-terrestrial life. Expect otherworldy topics on the agenda like the evidence (or not) for life on Martian meteorites, what will aliens look like, are aliens already here in a shadowy biosphere, Earth-like planets, and planetary protection.

 

We'll bring you together with astrobiologists and meteorite researchers to catch up with the latest news on the search for alien worlds. And we'll be debating how our actions in other worlds could affect life as yet undiscovered, as we ask the question 'should we actually be trying to find aliens'? Some, like Stephen Hawking, caution against this. See the recent BBC coverage of Stephen Hawking's warning of making contact with aliens.

 

The debate rockets off at 7pm in the Darwin Centre Attenborough Studio, and arrive at 6.30ish for a drink beforehand. The bar is open during the event. Book tickets (£6) online.


What would you tell an ET if you met one tomorrow? Come to the event and share your thoughts with other Earthlings.

 

Prepare to get spaced....

 

 

Grainy black and white image of supposed UFO, Passoria, New Jersey, right

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It's time to say a fond farewell to Jimmy Doherty, his co-presenters, and the Natural History Museum on TV. The last programme of the Museum of Life BBC documentary is tonight, 22 April. But you can catch the series for 1 more week on BBC iPlayer. And our last episode talk and screening is next Wednesday on 28 April.

 

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Tonight's final episode 6, 'A Collection for the Future', delves deep into the world of meteorites and minerals. In one of the highlights, presenter Liz Bonnin talks to our Museum mineralogist Alan Hart about the casting of the famous Koh-i-Noor diamond, once the world's largest diamond and the size of a hen's egg. Here in our Vault gallery, visitors can actually view 2 replicas of the cut and recut Koh-i-Noor diamond (right).


Other tasty titbits in tonight's programme include looking inside a shark specimen without damaging it, some cutting-edge techniques that scientists are developing to investigate the Museum's collections in future, and Sir David Attenborough on the Museum's future role.

 

To find out more about tonight's episode and the whole series, visit our Museum of Life website.

Museum of Life competition

Tonight we are also revealing all the questions to the Museum of Life competition which Twitter fans have been following. Join our live tweets tonight on @NHM_MOL Twitter stream for a chance to win. You don't have to be a Twitter fan to enter, but it'll certainly help with the answers. Enter on the Museum of Life competition webpage.

Bye bye Liz, Kate, Jimmy, Mark and Chris. It's been great going behind the scenes of the Museum with you all
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If you want to see more amazing meteorites and diamonds, visit our Minerals gallery and The Vault gallery . Some stunning minerals, including a piece of moon rock, and semi-precious stones also line our Red Zone ground floor by the Earth galleries escalator. Discover all about meteorites on our website.


To join the last Nature Live episode 6 session on 28 April or browse our interactive Museum of Life, go to our Museum of LIfe page for visitors.

 

For those who need more, there is a book of the series available from our Museum shops and a DVD on the way.

 

Happy Earth Day.

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Today, 16 April, we celebrated the 350th anniversary of the birth of Sir Hans Sloane, and the start of our Sloane 350 season.

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You can find out all about this great 18th century naturalist and physician, who brought chocolate to the UK, on our Sloane 350 website.

 

Sir Hans Sloane collected over 400,000 objects in his long lifetime including plants, animals, manuscripts and all manner of antiquities. We have many of his specimens in the Museum and he is effectively the founding father of this Museum.

 

When Sloane first tasted the chocolate drink in Jamaica, where he worked as a young physician early in his career, he described it as 'nauseous'. But the story goes that after trying it mixed with milk, and not water as it was drunk by the Jamaicans then, he found it much more appealing and 'healthy'. He brought his recipe back to London and later, Cadbury's started making chocolate (pictured below) as we know it from his original recipe. The rest is history.


One of our celebrity specimens in the Museum is the cocoa Sir Hans Sloane actually collected.

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jamaican-moth.jpgYou can explore some of Sloane's amazing collections on the Sloane Herbarium tours. Have a look at our Sloane 350 events web page for details.

 

Today we also featured one of the most beautiful moths in the world, Urania sloanus, as our Species of the Day.This gorgeous Jamaican creature (right), now extinct sadly, was named in honour of Sir Hans Sloane. He was probably responsible for the first illustration of the moth. Find out more on our Urania sloanus Species of the Day page.

 

And we ate some fair trade chocolate in the office to celebrate...

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Our lovely Wildlife Garden has opened for spring and welcomes visitors on Sunday 11 April to its Yellow Book Day event.

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Yellow Book Day is part of the National Gardens' Scheme to open gardens for charity.

 

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At the daytime event, explore a bird hide installation by pastoral feltmaker Anne Belgrave, where you can try and spot some of her felt bird sculptures dotted around the garden. (With the help of some bird ID charts to hand.) One of her pretty creations is shown here on the left.

 

Become a bird detective and see if you can identify real species in the garden too. Recently a jay, heron and a pair of nesting blue-tits have joined our familiar moorhens, blackbirds and robins.

 

As well as identifying birds, enjoy spotting some incredible pond life through a microscope and find out about the garden's frogs, toads and newts.

 

Walk through the meadows and enjoy the spring plants and flowers as you browse stalls selling wild flowers, homemade tea and cakes. It's a perfect spring day out and a breath of fresh air if you've been inside the Museum's galleries for too long! Have a look at our Wildlife Garden highlights slideshow for more of a glimpse.

 

There is a bird talk in the afternoon in the Attenborough Studio about the felt bird installation by the artist Anne Belgrave, and Katrina van Grouw from the Birds Section at our Tring Museum will talk about British birds and how to identify and encourage them at home.

 

Our species of the day celebrates the jay. Unearth lots of fascinating facts about this shy yet striking, acorn-eating bird you'll find near oak trees.

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The sun shone gloriously yesterday in London to mark the opening of our Butterfly Explorers exhibition outside on the east lawn.

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Lots of visitors flocked in to the butterfly house, through the giant globe entrance, and the exhibition looks set to be a popular place over the rest of the school holidays and the coming summer months.

 

Have a look at the new Butterfly Explorers highlights slideshow on our website to see what exhibition treats await this year's butterfly adventurers, young and old. Get ready for a world expedition that's full of wonder, learning and fun, not forgetting 100s of dazzling live butterflies, a delectable feeding table (below), tall tree house and gigantic garden gnome.

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As the spring turns to summer, there’ll be more and more butterflies arriving and plants and flowers maturing. Already some of the first magical moon moths have emerged from their chrysalises and more rare species will make the butterfly house their home over the coming months.

 

This year's butterfly exhibition is part of the UK International Year of Biodiversity 2010 and highlights the variety of butterfly species around the world, their  conservation and theats to their survival.

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Go on a journey from the exotic to the familiar...