Stargazing goes LIVE in Wales

13 January 2012

One of the most popular factual BBC series of last year – Stargazing LIVE – is due to return to our screens next week and, to help mark the celestial celebrations, the Institute of Physics in Wales (IOP in Wales) is working together with universities and other organisations to run a series of three stargazing events.

Stargazing goes LIVE in Wales

The events present an opportunity for total beginners, amateur astronomers and professional stargazers to explore the night sky together at three different locations across Wales – Llanelli in the west of Wales on Monday 16 January, Wrexham in the north on Wednesday 18 January, and Wick in the south on Friday 20 January.

The three events - at the WWT National Wetland Centre Wales near Llanelli, Glyndŵr University in Wrexham and the Sports Pavilion in Wick – will include opportunities to observe the night sky (weather permitting!) and hear a selection of talks which, depending on the venue, encompass black holes, dark energy, photographing the night sky and supernovae.

There is full information about locations and times of all three events

Visitors to the events will be sharing the experience with tens of thousands of fellow stargazers as part of the UK-wide extravaganza that is tied into the BBC 2 show Stargazing LIVE. This year’s series, presented again by Professor Brian Cox and Dara O’Briain, will be broadcast live from the Control Room of the Jodrell Bank Observatory on the 16, 17 and 18 January on BBC 2.

Welsh school children can join others around the UK in a live Q & A with Professor Brian Cox on Thursday 19 January at 2pm.  Professor Cox will present a dynamic, live interactive lesson that all schools can join in at or via the BBC Red button.

South Wales
Dr Carol Wood from the University of Wales, Newport, who has led organisation for the event in Wick, says, “The BBC’s Stargazing LIVE series sets out to encourage everyone to make the most of the night sky and I wanted to bring this idea into my local community by holding a Stargazing LIVE event in Wick.

“We are very fortunate to have Professor Derek Ward-Thompson from Cardiff University and the Broughton Astronomical Society on hand and they agreed to provide the expertise on the night.

“There will be a short presentation about the night sky followed by the opportunity to view the stars through telescopes, weather permitting! Help will be at hand to show visitors of all ages how to use a simple telescope to see some of the wonders of the night sky.”

Professor Ward-Thompson, of Cardiff University, who will be leading the presentations in Wick, said “Stargazing LIVE is an excellent opportunity for members of the public of all ages to join in. Astronomy is a fascinating subject, and this is a rare opportunity to look through a telescope at the night sky.”

North Wales
Andrea Fesmer, the IOP’s physics teacher network coordinator for North Wales, who has led organisation for the event at Glyndŵr University, Wrexham, says “Due to popular demand we are stargazing again at Glyndŵr University in Wrexham.

“Dr Steve Barrett from the Department of Physics at the University of Liverpool showed us beautiful holiday photos last year and this year he is going to show us how to take similar ones. He is also going to share some of his solar eclipse photos from different sites around the globe.  Dr Phil James from the Astrophysics Research Institute at Liverpool John Moores University is going to talk about colliding galaxies and exploding stars!

“All this plus a visit to Techniquest Glyndŵr’s inflatable planetarium and, weather permitting, some live stargazing, should make it another memorable night with the stars!”

West Wales
Dr Angharad Thomas, the IOP’s National Officer for Wales, who has led organisation for the event at the WWT National Wetland Centre Wales, says “Following the success of the event we held last year we’re holding one again this year, but this time at the WWT National Wetland Centre Wales near Llanelli. Visitors will have the opportunity to learn how to navigate the night sky and hopefully, weather permitting, have the opportunity to try out what they’ve just learnt.

“Visitors will also have the opportunity to make a galaxy suncatcher and hear the talks “Dark Things that Lurk Out There” and “How Dense Can You Get?” We are very fortunate that Professor Dave Dunbar, a physicist at Swansea University is back with us again with even more of his colleagues to educate and inspire the visitors.”

STEM Ambassador Rhys Phillips, joint winner of the IOP's inaugural Early Career Physics Communicators' Award, is also attending. He says, "Following the success of last year's event, I'm looking forward to once again being part of Stargazing LIVE. It's a great way to engage members of the public with astronomy that they can easily relate to the BBC TV series. It should be a fantastic evening - let's hope the skies are clear!"

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