Stargazing+ at O'Hanlon House

23 July 2018

Stargazing+ at O'Hanlon House

On Thursday 17th May a team of our researchers visited O'Hanlon House, a resettlement centre for around 66 homeless people in central Oxford, to talk about space and the Universe.

We brought along a giant Lego model of the Extremely Large Telescope along with the infrared camera and discharge lamps to discuss multi-wavelength astronomy and spectra. Over the course of the session 20 clients came over to ask questions and discuss the demonstrations. The Extremely Large Telescope was of particular interest and sparked lots of stimulating conversations about what the instrument is likely to discover.

Dr James Matthews, who first approached the shelter, says “The idea for the session came about from discussions over coffee about the concerns many of us harboured for those unfortunate enough to be homeless in Oxford. We decided we wanted to find a way in which our specific skills could be used to make a difference, however small, to the homeless community

The session was included in a programme of activities at O’Hanlon House designed to empower clients in difficult circumstances. The team from O’Hanlon House have since been in touch to tell us that our session must have had real positive impact on some of their residents as they have requested we return for a follow-up session.

James adds “I found the outreach session incredibly rewarding; we met so many fascinating people who asked insightful questions from a different perspective to what we are used to. The experience challenged me to examine the preconceptions and prejudices I have, but also reminded me how our curiosity about space and how things work is universal and inspiring.

This was part of our Stargazing+ programme to engage under-served audiences with space-related research. We hope to continue to build our links with O’Hanlon House and are currently planning our next activity.

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Thank you to Dr James Matthews, Dr Adam Ingram, Leanne O'Donnell, Dr Kathryn Boast, Darsh Kodwani and Dr Sian Tedaldi for their involvement.

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