University welcomes public for Stargazing Live event
Over 700 members of the public and amateur astronomers descended on Stag Hill campus on 29 March for an evening of star gazing, hosted by Surrey’s Department of Physics and Astrophysics research group.
The ‘star party’, which coincided with the return of BBC Two’s Stargazing Live programme, was an opportunity for adults and children to find out more about astronomy and physics through practical activities and talks.
Visitors also got the chance to view the stars using telescopes provided by Surrey’s Astrophysics group, the Physoc Society and Guildford Astronomical Society – an activity that proved very popular, despite a cloudy evening. When the skies cleared, attendees saw a number of exciting astronomical objects including Jupiter, stellar clusters the Betelguese star – the red ‘supergiant’ star in the constellation of Orion, which will one day explode as a supernova.
Children and adults alike enjoyed a craft area – where they could design their own aliens, build space rockets and compete in astronomy-themed quizzes – along with hands-on demonstrations about different aspects of physics. There were also talks on a range of topics including the Cassinni’s epic exploration of Saturn, touring through the Milky Way, exploding stars, and understanding radioactivity.
Another highly popular feature was a planetarium shows which took place in an inflatable planetarium provided by the University of Hertfordshire.
One visitor commented: “We all had a fantastic evening. The highlight of the night was being able to look through one of the telescopes ourselves and see the stars really clearly.”
Dr Heather Campbell, University of Surrey SEPnet (South East Physics Network) Outreach & Ogden Science Officer, said: “The evening was a huge success. It was brilliant to see so many people of all ages engaging in physics and astronomy. This type of event is really important in making the research we’re carrying out at the University more accessible to the public, as well as helping to inspire the next generation of scientists!”
Surrey’s event was one of many ‘star parties’ held up and down the UK to coincide with the return of BBC Stargazing Live. The BBC Two series of broadcast annually from Jodrell Bank Observatory and presented by Professor Brian Cox and Dara O Briain.