Stargazing Live

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Stargazing Live
Stargazing Live
Genre Popular science
Format Live broadcast
Presented by Brian Cox
Dara Ó Briain
Liz Bonnin
Mark Thompson
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of series 4
No. of episodes 12 + 9 Back to Earth episodes
Production
Running time 60 mins (main show)
30 mins (Back to Earth)
Broadcast
Original channel BBC Two
BBC HD
BBC Two HD
Picture format 1080i (HDTV)
Original run 3 January 2011 – present
External links
Website

Stargazing Live is a British live television programme on astronomy that was first broadcast for three evenings on BBC Two between 3 and 5 January 2011, with a second series broadcast between 16 and 18 January 2012,[1] a third series between 8 and 10 January 2013, and a fourth series between 7 and 9 January 2014. The series is primarily presented by scientist Brian Cox and comedian and amateur astronomer Dara Ó Briain with support from TV presenter Liz Bonnin and astronomer Mark Thompson. It is broadcast from Jodrell Bank Observatory[2] and has featured live links from scientific facilities in Hawaii, South Africa, Norway and NASA.

Overview[edit]

The first series was scheduled to coincide with the partial Solar eclipse of 4 January 2011,[2] a conjunction of Jupiter and Uranus, and the Quadrantid meteor shower.[3] It also featured Jonathan Ross learning how to spot planets, and a discussion with the International Space Station.[4]

Scientific advisors for the first series included Dan Hillier, manager of the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh, visitor centre.[3]

To coincide with each series of the show, hundreds of Stargazing Live events were run across the UK, including star parties and 'sidewalk astronomy' sessions. Many of these events were organised by local astronomy societies and universities.[5]

The show returned for a second series on 16–18 January 2012. The first episode had a theme about the moon, including a live interview with 'the last man on the moon', Apollo 17 astronaut Eugene Cernan. The second episode had a focus on black holes, and the third on the possible existence of extra-terrestrial life.[1] Each episode included different guests, such as impressionist and amateur astronomer, Jon Culshaw on the second night. The final episode also included a feature titled the "Great Big Dulverton Switch Off"[5] where every light in the town of Dulverton, Somerset was switched off live on TV to highlight the issue of light pollution. Each episode of the series was immediately followed by Back to Earth, an additional half-hour discussion of the main show.

The second series was a co-production with the Open University, with OU science consultants Dr Andrew Norton, Dr Dave Rothery and Dr Stephen Serjeant.[6]

During the 2012 series, viewers were encouraged to help locate possible exoplanets, planets orbiting stars outside the Solar System, by volunteering some time on the Planet Hunters[7] online citizen science project. This led to the discovery of a new Neptune-sized exoplanet by two amateur astronomers, one in Peterborough, England, to be named Threapleton Holmes B.[8]

The third series returned with another three episodes. As with the last series, a "Back to Earth" chat was held after each episode. A citizen science project was again featured, this time asking viewers to help in identifying areas of interest in aerial photographs of the surface of Mars. Another feature which ran across the three nights involved the construction of a modern version of William Herschel's 20-foot telescope at the University of Derby.[9]

The fourth series appeared in January 2014, with the citizen science project asking viewers to look for evidence of gravitational lensing in deep space photographs, which resulted in the discovery of dozens of previously unknown galaxies. The series also featured live broadcasts from Norway with the aim of capturing the aurora borealis on camera; although the show's publicity emphasised that the unpredictable nature of the aurora meant this attempt could easily fail, an unexpectedly large coronal mass ejection that week resulted in strong auroral activity, with live footage of the phenomenon being captured on all three nights.

Episodes[edit]

Series 1 (2011)[edit]

Episode Aired Topic Episode summary
1x01 3 January 2011 Jupiter Jonathan Ross is shown how to use a telescope, Brian Cox explains why planets are spheres, Hawaii becomes home to Liz Bonnin, who talks about Mars and Mark Thompson gives tips on how to take brilliant night photographs.
1x02 4 January 2011 The Sun Liz Bonnin shows images of the Sun and talks about blackouts from CMEs, Brian Cox explains how to know where every planet will be at a certain time. The presenters talk about Andromeda Galaxy and interview a scientist recording the sounds of Space.
1x03 5 January 2011 Meteors Brian Cox talks to the astronauts on board the International Space Station, Mark Thompson gives amateur stargazers a chance to watch the Quadrantid Meteor Shower, Liz Bonnin looks at night skies from Hawaii, Dara O'Briain goes on top of the Lovell Telescope at their HQ in Jodrell Bank Observatory and tries to experience what an astronaut does.

Series 2 (2012)[edit]

Each episode of this series was immediately followed by Stargazing Live: Back to Earth, in which Brian, Dara and their guests discuss the subjects raised in the main show.

Episode Aired Topic Episode Summary
2x01 16 January 2012 The Moon Brian Cox and Dara O'Briain speak to commander of the Apollo 17 mission Eugene Cernan, Mark Thompson presents a guide to show which telescopes amateurs should use, Liz Bonnin is at SALT in South Africa, and viewers are given the chance to find their own exo-planets.
2x02 17 January 2012 Black holes Brian Cox explains how black holes are formed, Liz Bonnin is at SALT in South Africa, Mark Thompson takes four budding astronomers from the light polluted skies of London to a dark spot, Dara O'Briain explains the live switch off, UFO's are explained and the team from the University run an animation to show the beginning of the Universe.
2x03 18 January 2012 Aliens The team hunt for aliens, viewers discover a new planet, Dara O'Briain and Brian Cox hear the sound of a far off object, Mark Thompson convinces a whole town to switch off their lights live, Liz Bonnin shows off South African telescopes, information about mankind deep in space is explained and Dara O'Briain hears music from the Universe.

Series 3 (2013)[edit]

As with Series 2, each episode was followed by Stargazing Live: Back to Earth.

Episode Aired Topic Episode Summary
3x01 8 January 2013 Mars Exploration Dara O Briain and Professor Brian Cox celebrate our amazing night sky. They kick things off with the search for evidence of life on Mars and ask viewers for help to explore an uncharted area of the red planet's surface. Liz Bonnin reports live from NASA mission control to find out the latest findings of the Curiosity Rover, whilst Mark Thompson offers tips on how to observe the moons of Jupiter.
3x02 9 January 2013 Deep Space Dara and Brian's journey through the night sky continues with a look into the distant past, explaining how it is possible to chart the history of the universe by looking million of light years out into the depths of space. Meanwhile, Mark Thompson reveals what can be learned from the colours of the stars. At NASA, Liz Bonnin meets the team building the largest space telescope in the world, an instrument that's 100 times more powerful than the Hubble.
3x03 10 January 2013 Meteors, Asteroids & Comets On the final night of their astronomical adventure, Brian and Dara discuss meteors, comets and asteroids and reveal how studying them reveals information about the origins of life on Earth. Meanwhile, Liz Bonnin meets the NASA team tasked with tracking any space objects on a collision course with Earth. The results of the experiment carried out by the Stargazing viewers - to explore an uncharted area on the surface of Mars - are also revealed.

Series 4 (2014)[edit]

As with Series 2 and 3, each episode was followed by Stargazing Live: Back to Earth.

Episode Aired Topic Episode Summary
4x01 7 January 2014 Aurora Hunting Dara O Briain and Professor Brian Cox explain how activity on the Sun distorts the Earth's magnetic field and creates the aurorae. The show coincided with a large coronal mass ejection which resulted in a spectacular display on the third night of the series. Liz Bonnin is in Tromso, Norway showing live pictures of the aurora. Mark Thompson is in Norfolk with the local astronomical societies. Carolyn Porco, head of the Cassini mission imaging team, is a guest at Jodrell Bank and they show Cassini movies of aurorae on Saturn. Viewers are invited to participate in examining 40,000 images of galaxies to identify galaxies which gravitationally lens light from far distant galaxies behind them - the aim was for 500,000 images to be examined in two days; in fact this target was met before the end of that evenings' "Stargazing Live: Back to Earth"!
4x02 8 January 2014 Space exploration Dara and Brian are thrilled to have two of their heroes as guests tonight - Commander Walter Cunningham of Apollo 7, and Commander Chris Hadfield, former commander of the International Space Station. Liz Bonnin takes to the air to view the aurora from 30,000 feet, above the clouds in Norway. Mark Thompson explains how to view satellites in space from Earth. Dara experiences weightlessness on a "vomit comet" aircraft flight.
4x03 9 January 2014 Gravitational lenses & Galaxies The search for hidden galaxies started on the first night has been extremely successful - more than 50 gravitational lenses were discovered in two days, and some of the worlds' largest telescopes have been tasked with verifying viewers' discoveries. Brian explains how we work out what the shape of our Galaxy looks like. Dara endures the G-forces experienced by astronauts during a launch in a training centrifuge. Mark Thompson demonstrates how to navigate a boat across the English Channel only using the stars. There is a discussion on exoplanets.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Brian Cox on Twitter". 20 July 2011. Retrieved 20 July 2011. 
  2. ^ a b "Jodrell Bank Observatory to host BBC Stargazing Live". BBC News. 21 December 2010. Retrieved 19 April 2011. 
  3. ^ a b "BBC News - Stargazing Live". news.bbc.co.uk. 23 December 2010. Retrieved 4 January 2011. 
  4. ^ "BBC - Episodes from Stargazing LIVE broadcast in 2011". BBC. Retrieved 19 April 2011. 
  5. ^ a b "BBC Stargazing Live - Events". BBC. Retrieved 19 April 2011. 
  6. ^ "OU on the BBC: Stargazing LIVE". Open University. 15 December 2011. Retrieved 9 February 2012. 
  7. ^ "Planet Hunters". Zooniverse[[{{subst:DATE}}|{{subst:DATE}}]] [disambiguation needed]. Retrieved 19 January 2012. 
  8. ^ "Amateur stargazers discover new planet". The Daily Telegraph (Telegraph Media Group). 20 January 2012. Retrieved 20 January 2012. 
  9. ^ "BBC builds William Herschel's telescope for Stargazing Live". BBC. 10 January 2013. 

External links[edit]