Last week, the University of Leicester was lucky enough to be picked as the host of events for BBC Stargazing Live in the East Midlands. For those of you that don’t know, Stargazing Live is a three day long, live, BBC Two programme hosted by Dara Ó Briain and Brain Cox which first started in 2011. As well as the live shows, which this year ran from the 8th of January till the 10th, a number of public events are run around the UK in order to try and get as many people involved in celebrating astronomy as possible.
On the opening evening of the show the University opened its doors to thousands of members of the public and hosted a huge array of space related activities all across the campus. Sadly, the weather was really terrible and so not much actual Stargazing was able to take place here at the Uni itself. Nevertheless, there was still lots of other activities that people came along to get involved in. Most notably, visitors were able to listen to the University’s very own Dr John Bridges give a lecture discussing his involvement in the Mars Curiosity rover missions!
Unfortunately, I was not able to go and listen to Dr Bridges give his talk or see most of the events going on around the Uni in fact! Instead, along side a number of other IScience students and students from the other science and engineering departments, I was informing our visitors of some fundamental science concepts that are vital for our further understanding of space by helping out with one of the many demonstrations run during the evening. Initially, I was a little nervous as I was giving a demonstration that involved fire and there were many small children about! However, after I saw the look of wonder on some of their faces when I showed them how they could make a tea bag fly it was definitely all worth it!
Hopefully all of our visitors enjoyed their evening as I most certainly did and I feel very lucky to have been able to have been a part of it. If you haven’t already ready seen the Stargazing Live programmes I would strongly advise that you give them ago! Also if you fancy knowing how to make a tea bag fly for yourself, there are some good instructions to the experiment here. Do of course make sure you are careful and ask for permission if you need to before you start setting fire to things! Oh, and finally, don’t forget to join the thousands of people worldwide who are helping to discover the surface of Mars with this project supported by Stargazing Live!!!