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Stargazing LIVE returns to Jodrell Bank

12 Jan 2012

The hugely-popular Stargazing LIVE returns to The University of Manchester’s Jodrell Bank Observatory this week.

Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell with Brian and Dara at last year's event

Hosted by Professor Brian Cox and comedian Dara O Briain, the astronomy extravaganza last year attracted more than 10 million viewers across three nights.

Such was the success of the BBC Two show that Jodrell Bank in Cheshire has once again been chosen as the location for the event, which is on at 8.30pm on Monday 16th January and 8pm on Tuesday 17th and Wednesday 18th January.

Stargazing LIVE aims to encourage everyone – from the complete beginner to the enthusiastic amateur – to make the most of the night sky.

Professor Cox, a University of Manchester particle physicist, and Dara will broadcast live from the control room at Jodrell Bank, interacting live with the audience and calling on a starry collection of the country’s finest astronomical minds to explore the majestic wonders of the skies above Britain.

As they showcase breathtaking images from the world’s most powerful telescopes, Professor Cox and Dara will be joined by celebrities and scientific experts including space nut Jon Culshaw and guest of honour Captain Eugene Cernan, the last man ever to walk on the surface of the Moon. University of Manchester academics, including Dr Tim O’Brien who acts as a scientific consultant for the show and coordinates the activities at Jodrell Bank, will also be taking part.

In an information packed jaunt across the cosmos, Brian and Dara will look at the Moon (episode 1), the Galaxy (episode 2) and the search for extraterrestrial life (episode 3), teaching us everything we’ve always wanted to know about the Solar System, our Milky Way and the deepest recesses of space.

In their own unique style, the pair will tackle some of the most intriguing questions in astronomy, such as Why Does the Moon Cause The Tides?, How Do We Know Where Black Holes Are When They Are impossible To See? and What Will We Actually Say If We Ever Make Contact With An Alien Race? Closer to home, there will also be hints and tips for getting started in stargazing and advice on navigating your way around the skies.

Following each night’s Stargazing LIVE episode will be Stargazing Live: Back To Earth, a 30-minute special in which viewers can put questions directly to Brian and Dara, send in their favourite astronomy pictures and take part in astronomy related discussions and debates live on air.

Over the course of the three nights, the Stargazing LIVE team will be switching off lights across the country (at venues including the Eden Project) to demonstrate just how magical UK landmarks can look when light pollution is removed.

Amateur astronomers across the country are getting involved. Novices and stargazing fanatics alike are set to attend one of the numerous star parties – organised by BBC Learning and partners – taking place during January and whilst Stargazing LIVE is on air. To find your nearest event visit bbc.co.uk/stargazing. The Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre itself is holding special Stargazing days on Sat 21st and Sun 22nd January – see www.jodrellbank.net for more details.

Following the series, school children across the country will get the chance to put their questions directly to Professor Cox.

At 2pm on Thursday 19 January Professor Cox will present a dynamic live, interactive lesson from the Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre in collaboration with The Big Bang Fair and Jodrell’s own extensive schools education programme.

All UK schools can join in on the website or via the BBC Red Button. A Cheshire school will interview Brian live and present a feature for BBC News School Report.

Notes for editors

Media access to the live shows is not permitted due to safety requirements and space. However, there will be limited time available during the days to visit the set. Please contact The University of Manchester press office for more details.

Last year, there were 2.4 million downloads of the Stargazing LIVE Star Guide – the most downloaded BBC resource of all-time (produced by BBC Learning). A new updated version has been produced – the Star and Moon Guide 2012 - available from the website and at events. Over 40,000 people got involved in one of more than 300 Stargazing Live events across the country.

In 2011, the three-night TV series peaked at 4 million viewers (double the slot average), making it one of the most popular BBC Two factual series of the year.

For media enquiries please contact:

Daniel Cochlin
Media Relations Officer
The University of Manchester
0161 275 8387
daniel.cochlin@manchester.ac.uk