Stargazing Live 2013
By Steve Southern
Once again the BBC Stargazing Live programmes on BBC2 have sparked massive interest in the hobby of astronomy throughout the UK. And, as last year, the Liverpool Astronomical Society has been heavily involved with the live Jodrell Bank TV programmes. Plus our own local activities with more to come later in the month.
If it’s January then it must be Stargazing Live month! Earlier this month the BBC ran 3 evenings of Stargazing Live, Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday 8th, 9th and 10th which saw a host of scientists and celebrities form the panels for each of the 3 evenings for Stargazing Live based in Jodrell Bank. There were the key presenters of the programmes; Dara O’Briain and Brian Cox of course and accompanying them were Brian May of Queen fame, Lucie Green, Tim O’Brian, Joanna Dunckley, Lewis Dartnell, Ed Copeland, David Baddial, Phill Jupitus plus others across the 3 nights. Chris Lintott made some appearances too and outside at the observing field was the BBC astronomer Mark Thompson.
Last year the TV audience figures hit around 3.6million each evening with a further 2.7million for the Back to Earth 2nd part. This year’s TV audience figures are looking even higher so well done to the BBC and all who made it such a success. During last years’ programmes telescope sales increased by a massive 500%. The society certainly saw a huge increase in interest and attendance at our events last year. With even more astronomy events being arranged we are all well prepared for another huge increase in interest during the next few months.
The LAS certainly fully participated in Stargazing Live again this year. We had our own event on Friday 11th January at Court Hey visitor centre. Despite poor skies, we estimated some 250 members of the public came along where they enjoyed several talks from Brendan and Geoff plus a glimpse of the night sky through many of the members’ own telescopes. The main object observed was Jupiter and it’s Galilean Moons. We had some 13 members taking part in a huge star party of 2,500 astronomers the previous evening at Tatton Park on Thursday 10th January. Poor skies did not detract from a great evening under the huge marque supplied by the BBC. The star of the show was undoubtedly the 30” telescope. On Tuesday 8th and Wednesday 9th January we had 32 members taking part in the Stargazing Live shows each evening from Jodrell Bank.
Tuesday and Wednesday was a great treat for a number of members and young astronomers as the LAS provided the educated audience both evenings of Stargazing Live from Jodrell Bank. We had 32 people in the observing field and then again as we moved into the live studio for the “Back to Earth” 2nd portion of the programme we provided the backdrop audience. Both evenings were greatly enjoyed by the members, adult and young alike. Once again the LAS adults and youngsters received many thanks and accolades from Jodrell Bank and the BBC for their cooperation and behaviour so may I add my thanks too on behalf of the LAS. The weather was pretty awful on the first evening with rain followed by thick cloud all evening but Wednesday evening turned into a wonderful observing evening with many objects observed through a variety of telescopes. M45, M42, M31 and Jupiter were the main objects observed. The Wednesday evening also had some youngsters showing how good they were with interviews on camera by Mark Thompson about the colour of stars and planets, very well done to them all. Everyone enjoyed meeting Prof Brian Cox, Brian May et al after the show had finished and we have plenty of photo’s to prove it.
Same again next year please BBC
View the slideshow of images below
(If you can’t see the slideshow, you can see the photos via this link: http://flic.kr/s/aHsjDGXfMg )