WE have always been drawn to the Moon. Mysterious, bright and eerie, it has fascinated us for centuries.

“A beautiful and delightful sight” was how Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei described it in the 17th century when he was one of the first people to view the Moon through an early telescope, making detailed drawings of its surface.

Galileo’s drawings were published in his book, Sidereus Nuncius (Starry Messenger) - one of the world’s earliest astronomical books - and an original 1610 copy takes pride of place in a fascinating exhibition in Bradford.

Hello Universe, at the National Science and Media Museum, takes an interactive look at how information from the cosmos has been recorded over hundreds of years, particularly the five decades of space exploration that followed Neil Armstrong’s momentous ‘first step’ in 1969.

The exhibition has attracted more than 100,000 visits across its two galleries since last summer - and for anyone who has yet to see it, there’s still chance before it closes later this month.

It begins with Galileo and his hand drawings of the Moon, showing how he worked out that the shadows were made by mountains and craters, and looks at how astronomers used magic lanterns to create pictures of the Moon; painting or printing them onto glass slides then projecting them. One image, taken in 1860, is beautifully intricate.

Young visitors to the exhibition are invited to look through telescopes and draw what they see.

Hello Universe goes on to focus on arguably the highlight of human lunar activity - the 1969 Apollo 11 flight and Moon landing - and how technology was developed to transmit live pictures a quarter-of-a-million miles back to earth.

Playing a vital role in transmitting those pictures was Bradford-born Mike Dinn who, in 1969, was Deputy Director at the Honeysuckle Creek communications station in Canberra - the facility which received the images of Armstrong’s historic moment and made them available for broadcast across the world’s TV networks.

Mike, who is pictured at the Operations Console in 1969, headed the team in Australia that brought the first broadcast images and sound from the Moon to TV sets around the world.

The signal sent from the Moon was first received by tracking stations in Australia, due to logistical issues preventing it from taking place in California, then sent to America, where NASA converted it for television and beamed it to communication satellites in space, sending them for global broadcast.

The exhibition explores the image and sound technologies allowing the depths of the universe to be explored in mind-blowing detail. There are examples of Hasselblad cameras used on all Apollo missions - Commander Neil Armstrong, lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin and command module pilot Michael Collins took 1,407 photos on Apollo 11 - and a half-size model of the Viking Lander, the first spacecraft to successfully land on Mars and send images back. It returned the first colour images of the planet’s surface and information about its weather and rocks.

The exhibition includes boxes of thousands of prints sent from NASA to scientists (there were too many to send electronically) from Voyager missions.

There is a fascinating, stunning exhibition - but it’s not just for star-gazers. To be honest, I have very little interest in space travel but I found it really interesting, and quite moving.

And it’s very family-friendly, with interactive exhibits throughout. Youngsters can even make their own Lego models of space buggies and other equipment.

As well as images from space - including beautiful paintings of the Milky Way and Orion Nebula by French artist and astronomer Etienne Leopold Trouvelot in the late 1800s, taken from telescope observatories - there are human stories

related to space travel. Objects from the 1960s to the present day, from the collection of Yorkshireman Mark Wrigley show how his fascination with space as a schoolboy, watching the 1969 Moon landing on TV, led to a career in science and technology, and him becoming a trustee of the Institute of Physics. The exhibition includes footage Mark recorded of the Moon landing, filmed from his family’s TV screen with a Super 8 camera.

Also on display is a Mission patch on the blue space suit Neil Armstrong wore in quarantine after touching back down to Earth, and a meteorite from the Moo. There are detailed images of the cosmos projected onto a 5m x 3m screen, giving families chance to journey through the solar system and beyond, looking at the ways stars and planets are viewed and understood, and visitors can also have a go at sketching the Moon based on Galileo’s hand drawings. A must-visit exhibition that is simply out of this world...

* Hello Universe is at the National Science and Media Museum until January 22.