A large planetarium will transport Epping Forest folk to outer space on the half-century anniversary of an astronomical society.

In 1968 the Loughton Astronomical Society was formed by a group of keen star-gazers, in the same year that man orbited the moon and observed 'Earthrise' for the first time.

What began as a small group made up of Loughton College students on a telescope mirror making class evolved into a well attended society which now boasts its own telescope, replete with 16” mirror and diagonal.

To mark the anniversary of its founding, Astro Festival will be held on November 10 at Theydon Bois Village Hall.

Committee member Mike Conway said: "The group is well known in the local community for its public outreach activities and for its junior section, Astrokyds, which meets monthly.

"Therefore, we have divided the festival into two sessions.

"The morning is aimed at families with children of school age, while the afternoon is a lecture format more suited to older students and adults, whether keen amateur astronomers or those just curious to learn more about the night sky and cosmology."

The morning session, from 9.30am to 12.30pm, is free and will feature a variety of trade stands, demonstrations and displays ranging from telescopes and astro-apps to the making of real model rockets.

There is also four 30 minute shows in a large 60 seater planetarium, costing £3 an adult and £2 for children.

The afternoon's lectures will indulge attendees with stunning images of the night sky, the latest developments in the hunt for exoplanets and the most recent research on the Sun.

The latter talk will be presented by Professor Lucie Green from Cambridge, who is a regular contributor to the BBC's Sky at Night.

There is a charge of £15 to attend the afternoon session.

To book a ticket and find out more, go to www.las-astro.org.uk and click on Astro Festival.