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Highland village of Glenelg has been twinned with area of Mars

Former astronaut unveiled plaque as Nasa Curiosity rover arrived in Glenelg on red planet.

Grab of Highland village Glenelg twinned with area of Mars on Saturday October 20 2012
STV

Celebrations have been held in a Highland village which has been twinned with its namesake on the planet Mars.

Residents of Glenelg in the north-west of Scotland hosted a day of events to mark the journey of the remote-controlled Nasa Curiosity rover, which is on its way to Glenelg on the Red Planet.

The Scottish village, which has a population of around 300 people, attracted crowds of up to 400 at its official twinning ceremony on Saturday. A plaque was unveiled by former Nasa astronaut Bonnie Dunbar, declaring: "Glenelg - Twinned with Mars".

Ms Dunbar, a veteran of five space flights, flew in from the United States specially to attend the event.

The Space, Stars and Mars celebration featured a range of space-themed events, including the chance to drive a "Mars Rover" around a simulated Martian landscape in the school hall, a ceilidh and a stargazing event.

Doug McCuistion, director of the Nasa Mars exploration programme, gave a presentation over Skype, which was shown on a screen in the village hall.

Other speakers included Scotland's astronomer royal, Professor John C. Brown.

The event was the brainchild of Emma MacLean, 32, development officer for Glenelg and Arnisdale Development Trust, who was inspired by a newspaper article about the Nasa rover heading for Glenelg on Mars.

She said: "I'm just so relieved that everything has gone as well as it could have.

"I contacted Nasa a few weeks ago when I had the idea and since then it's just gone exactly to plan.

"It was fantastic to have Bonnie here, she is such an inspirational woman.

"Today's events have attracted huge crowds. There was standing room only in the marquee, I think the whole village has turned out as well as guests and people from the surrounding area.

"Our attention is now turning to what we can do next.

"We're hoping to hold some kind of annual celebration, and we are looking in to the possibility of gaining international dark sky status.

"Everyone was excited from the start, but it's just morphed into this huge thing and it has gone beyond anything we could have expected. I'm so pleased."

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