This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing and the perfect time to go on your own space-themed adventure in Scotland.
From Loch Airigh in the Outer Hebrides with its links to Jupiter, and the Isle of Coll – Scotland’s Dark Sky Island – to Bonnybridge near Falkirk, the UFO capital of Scotland, there are many places where you can enjoy an out-of-this-world experience.
National tourism body, VisitScotland, has created a Scotland Is Out Of This World trail highlighting the country’s links to the historic moonwalk, the planets and our dark skies.
Here is our guide to some of the best spots to hang out with the stars.
Dumfries & Galloway
On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong took “one giant leap for mankind” when he became the first person to walk on the lunar surface.
Three years after that historic moment, the Apollo 11 astronaut took another “small step” into the history books, in Langholm, the ancestral home of Clan Armstrong.
It was here in the Muckle Toon that he became the first person to be awarded the freedom of the Scottish burgh. The nearby 16th Century Gilnockie Tower features clan archives and a special exhibition devoted to Neil Armstrong himself.
Jedburgh is the birthplace of renowned 19th Century science writer, Mary Somerville, who theorised that difficulties in calculating the position of Uranus may point to an undiscovered planet.
The results of her study inspired scientists to discover Neptune.
Head to the coast and you may bump into Marvel superhero, Thor, as St Abbs doubled as New Asgard in the box office-smash, Avengers: Endgame.
Loch Airigh on the Isle of Harris portrays the surface of the planet Jupiter in 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Directed by Stanley Kubrick, the 1968 movie is considered one of the most influential science fiction films. Travel north to the Isle of Lewis and the Calanais Standing Stones (pictured right) and watch the Moon “dance” along the 5,000-year-old structures.
In 2012, the village of Glenelg was twinned with a geological feature on Mars bearing the same name.
Glenelg on the red planet was so named by NASA scientists after a particular rock formation found in Canada’s Northwest Territories. Looking to stargaze? Then head to Tomintoul and Glenlivet in Cairngorms National Park where you’ll find one of the darkest spots in the country.
Last year it was awarded Dark Sky status. And it is the most northerly Dark Sky Park in Europe.
Braemar is the birthplace of Johann von Lamont, a 19th Century astronomer and pioneer in geomagnetism, who calculated the mass of Uranus.
Close to Balmoral Castle on Royal Deeside, the area is home to Braemar Castle which was built in 1628 by the Earl of Mar as his Highland hunting lodge.
It was burned down during in the first Jacobite uprising and became home to the leader of the 1715 rebellion.
Then it was a garrison for government troops after the final defeat of the Jacobites at Culloden.
Falkirk and West Lothian
With more than 300 sightings every year, the Stirlingshire village of Bonnybridge has become the UFO capital of Scotland in what is dubbed the “Falkirk Triangle”.
Travel further east and you’ll find Linlithgow.
Famous for the Palace and as the birthplace of Mary, Queen of Scots, it is also “home” to another famous Scot – Montgomery “Scotty” Scott from Star Trek.
The fictional Enterprise’s chief engineer, it is said, will be born in the town in 2022.
Fowlis Wester Church, near Crieff, is dedicated to Saint Bean, and contains a piece of MacBean tartan.
US astronaut Alan Bean, the fourth person to walk on the Moon, carried it with him on the lunar module in 1969.
For more space-themed days out ideas, go to visitscotland.com/out-of-this-world