This amazing and vibrant city will always hold a special place in my heart, not just because I am Brazilian, but because it is the birthplace of both my love of the stars and my desire to go into Space.
Staying in the same flat in Rio where I stayed over 40 years ago as a very young girl, now looking out of the same window up at the same stars - it amazes me how one event can shape a lifetime.
Today is pouring with rain, much as it was all those years ago when my Mother (in an effort to amuse a very bored and grumpy young Thais!) took me to the planetarium at Gávea, Rio de Janeiro. During the 30 minute children's session I was so amazed by the display of stars that I refused to leave, wanting to see more, until my Mother bribed me by saying we could stop at a shop and buy a book on astronomy!
From that moment on the cosmos became an essential part of my life. I learned all about the universe, saved up for my first telescope, and decided in my childlike mind that one day I would visit the stars. I asked my Mother one day how this could be done and she replied: "You can only travel inside a spaceship if you are an astronaut", and so from that moment on it became my ambition, and shaped my destiny!
There are today over 100 major planetariums worldwide with domes of over 50ft or more, and in addition, hundreds more that are smaller or are mobile. All generally provide children's educational activities. So the next time it is raining where you are, think about locating your nearest planetarium and take your children, or your nephews and nieces, or your grlandchildren. Who knows if that one moment in their younag lives might also inspire them to reach for the stars.