A night under the stars with BBC′s Stargazing Live at Kielder Observatory

20.12.2010

Stargazing LIVE – Monday 3 to Wednesday 5 January, 8pm, BBC Two

Northumberland residents will be able to share a unique star gazing experience in the New Year with tens of thousands of fellow star gazers nationwide.

A new television show, Stargazing LIVE, promises to bring the wonders of the stars into living rooms across the country. From Monday 3 to Wednesday 5 January 2011, Professor Brian Cox will be presenting three special nights of live astronomy programming on BBC Two.

And for local residents hoping to be part of the action, Northumberland’s Kielder Observatory, in association with BBC Learning, will be hosting special events in Kielder Water & Forest Park.

Gary Fildes, director of Kielder Observatory, said: “Stargazing LIVE is a fantastic initiative to involve the public in observing the night sky and the natural beauty and wonder of the universe. Add to that the award winning Kielder Observatory. Its pristine dark skies with powerful telescopes and expertise, makes it the obvious platform to launch ourselves into this exciting new event.”

The series coincides with a number of astronomical phenomena that audiences across the UK will be able to observe - including the alignment of Jupiter and Uranus, a partial solar eclipse and the Quadrantid meteor shower.

The nationwide television extravaganza sees Professor Brian Cox, joined by acclaimed comedian, Dara O′Briain, bringing the night sky to total beginners, amateur astronomers and professional star gazers alike. Mark Thompson, BBC’s resident astronomer from The One Show, will be on-hand to offer viewers tips on how to navigate their own way across the skies.

Mark said: “The night sky is one of nature′s most incredible treasures so it’s fantastic that there are going to be Stargazing LIVE events up and down the country to give the public a chance to try their hand at stargazing.”

Events at Kielder Observatory include:

Nightwatch – Monday 3 January 2011 from 7pm – 10pm
An expert talk about the evolution of the universe followed by a tour of the facility and a chance to look at Jupiter, the "King of the planets", some deep sky objects like distant Galaxies, Saturn and its rings, star clusters and the Milky Way.

Partial solar eclipse – Tuesday 4 January 2011 from 8am – 10am
On the morning of 4 January, the moon will pass in front of the sun. As it progresses it will partially obscure a part of the solar disc, creating a partial solar eclipse.

Planet night – Wednesday 5 January 2011 from 7pm – 10pm
See Jupiter’s festooning atmosphere through powerful telescopes, witness the great red spot, which is the biggest storm in the solar system.

For full event listings go to www.kielderobservatory.org.

As well as the Stargazing LIVE events there will be other ways to get involved. Professor Cox is asking stargazers of all levels to share their photographs of the night sky, with the best showcased during the live shows in January. Whether the pictures are of the moon or the planets, galaxies or nebulae, comets or meteors, viewers are urged to upload images and download a comprehensive starter guide to the night sky by visiting www.bbc.co.uk/stargazing.

For more information contact Philippa Clark, Kielder Water & Forest Park communications advisor, on 0191 301 5538 or Gary Fildes, Kielder Observatory director, on 07805 638 469.

Pictures show: Kielder Observatory in Northumberland

Notes to editors

• For further information about Kielder Observatory: www.kielderobservatory.org

• For further information about Stargazing LIVE please email stargazing@bbc.co.uk

• For picture requests please contact pictures@bbc.co.uk or phone 020 8225 6800. If you have password access, pictures can be downloaded from www.bbcpictures.com

About BBC Stargazing LIVE

• Stargazing LIVE (8pm, 3-5 January, BBC Two) is a three-day live astronomy event where Dara O′Briain and special guest Jonathan Ross join the BBC′s favourite particle physicist Professor Brian Cox at one of the world′s largest radio telescopes. Liz Bonnin will be reporting from Hawaii, and The One Show′s resident astronomer, Mark Thompson, will be observing live, informing the audience what they too can find in the night sky.

• Stargazing LIVE events are taking place all over the UK from Monday 3 January until Sunday 16 January 2011. Go to www.bbc.co.uk/stagazing for the full list.

• The Stargazing LIVE campaign from BBC Learning aims to encourage all of us to learn more about astronomy. Developed in partnership with a huge range of science and astronomy organisations, the campaign encourages new audiences to get involved in finding out about the night sky.

www.bbc.co.uk/stargazing provides details on how to get started in astronomy, where to develop your interest and information on partner events taking place across the UK in January 2011.

About BBC Learning

The Stargazing LIVE campaign is one of the many unique and varied offerings from BBC Learning. BBC Learning plays a central part in meeting the BBC′s purpose of promoting education and learning. Utilising the power of the BBC’s big brands and key talent, the department puts learning right at the heart of the BBC and provides a variety of resources and learning opportunities for children, teachers, parents and adult learners. Working with partners and in local communities, BBC Learning aims to stimulate interests and encourage engagement through a variety of campaigns across all BBC genres and platforms. For more information on all the learning programmes offered visit www.bbc.co.uk/learningoverview.

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