STARGAZING OXFORD returned last weekend as part of the BBC’s Stargazing Live series, following last year’s success, which attracted nearly 1,200 people.
Held at the University Physics Department, the event featured astronomy workshops as well as an inflatable planetarium, solar telescopes, and talks on cosmology.
The event was part of the third series of Stargazing Live, involving television programmes as well as over 500 live events, and focused on “Meteors, Asteroids and Comets”.
Dr Jo Dunkley, an Astronomy Professor at Exeter College, was interviewed on the programme about the Big Bang. She told Cherwell, “It was great to be able to explain what I do and why I think it is so interesting. It’s also fantastic to know that so many people watching the programme want to find out more about space and astronomy.”
Regarding the role of events like Stargazing Live in promoting the importance of the sciences, Dunkley added, “I think it’s really important to be able to explain to the public what we do, as well as to show people what real scientists are like. We get to learn so many new and exciting things, and I think it’s vital that we share them. I hope these sorts of events also encourage more young people to keep studying sciences.”
Physics students at Exeter were particularly excited by the appearance of their tutor on the programme. Sam Perkins, one of Dr Dunkley’s students, commented, “We’ve always known she is an increasingly big name in astrophysics, and she’s an incredibly personable and articulate person anyway, so I guess it’s not so much of a surprise she was asked to be on the show. I don’t think her newfound celebrity status is likely to have much impact on our tutes, though we may be able to stall any discussion of statistical physics if we’re lucky.”