Stargazing Oxford!

11 January 2012 by Philip James Ma...

Happy New Year everybody! Here at Oxford Astrophysics we're back at work after the Christmas break, and are particularly busy - why's that? Next week is BBC Stargazing Live!

Each year, in January, the BBC put on a short series of programmes about astronomy called "Stargazing Live," and help run a whole bunch of local astronomy events all around the country. This year we are joining in, both with the programmes and also with our own space science festival, "Stargazing Oxford," here at the Denys Wilkinson Building.

Stargazing Oxford is happening all afternoon and evening on Saturday January 21st, from 2pm till 10pm. We've got lots of fun things planned: we're filling our cafeteria with stalls to show you the latest research going on here at the physics department, and we'll put on short "flash talks" during the day as well. We'll also have an inflatable planetarium, local experts demonstrating how to use small telescopes at home, and a photography exhibition. With kids of all ages we'll be making all sorts of astrocrafts, and you'll be able to watch teams of astronomers (of various types) in a battle of wits in "Universe-ity Challenge." We'll even have some modern art on display: "darkmatter," by local artist Marion Yorston. Intrigued? We are! It should be a great day out - come along for a few hours and see whats going on in your local University physics department.

I'm looking forward to the flash talks in particular. Andrew Pontzen works on simulations of galaxies: computer models of how they form and evolve over the age of the Universe, and what happens to the stars, gas and dark matter in those galaxies. He's made some really nice movies of his simulations, that will be shown on TV next week! He showed them to us at coffeetime yesterday, they really are very cool - and he'll be explaining how he made them next Saturday.

The programmes will be on BBC Two, at 8:30pm on Monday and then at 8pm Tuesday and Wednesday. And then, mark your calendars: Stargazing Oxford, Saturday the 21st of January, 2pm till 10pm. See you there!

For more information, see the event webpage at; if you're worried about the building's accessibility, drop us an email at

Categories: marshall | stargazing