A new quarter of a million centre dedicated to teaching astronomy at Rossall School will be officially opened today by a world renowned astrologer.

Sir Francis Graham Smith, the Astronomer Royal between 1982 and 1990 and a former Rossallian, will cut the ribbon at the Lawrence House Astronomy and Space Science Centre.

There will also be a rocket that has explored inner space, provided by Starchaser UK, for invited guests to look at.

The Astronomer Royal is a senior post in the Royal Household and Sir Francis was the 13th to be appointed.

The centre, which is the only one in the country that is dedicated to teaching purely astronomy, includes an observatory, planetarium, lecture theatre and a classroom, which is used for teaching all ages, starting with primary school children.

Dr Nick Lister, a teacher at the school, who has dreamed of creating a place like this for many years, first thought of the idea when he was giving public talks.

He said: "All the time I used to get people saying I never thought I'd enjoy astronomy'.

"Then I came to realise then when people dipped their toe into the subject they then loved it, so hopefully the centre will help lots of people dip their toes in."

The centre has been open since March last year but Dr Lister said they wanted the occasion of an official opening.

During the past 18 months each one of the 20 courses on offer have been full and they are having to draw up more courses to cater for the need. Dr Lister also does public lectures and pupils from Rossall, state schools and primary schools from across the North West attend the centre, funded by The Lawrence House Trust.

Dr Lister said his ambitions are now stretching to a wider scale. He said: "I'd like to take it on a national scale with people travelling from all over the country.

"It really has become a centre in its own right now, separate from the school.

"The opening is going to be very exciting and it's an honour to have such a world renowned astrologer like Sir Francis Graham Smith there to share it."