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Stargazing and Jodpub 2 January 16, 2011

Posted by Marie in Astronomy, BBC Stargazing Live, Jodrell Bank, MOSI, The Jodcast.
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An excellent day on Saturday, as events in connection with last week’s BBC Stargazing Live hit Manchester!  The venue was the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester, and many of the day’s Stargazing events were led by a team of enthusiastic and tirelessly energetic people from University of Manchester’s Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics, and the Jodcast (an astronomy podcast which they produce).

Located in the Air & Space Hall of the museum, the Jodrell Bank team had a ‘draw your own constellation’ activity and a ‘planetary treasure hunt’  stretching across the whole of the grounds, both of which went down a treat with younger visitors.

Inside the Air & Space Hall is a small planetarium, which hosted a number of events during the afternoon.  I managed to sneak in to a talk by Gresham Professor of Astronomy, Ian Morison, who describes the night sky each month for the Jodcast – it was lovely to put a face to the voice, and a bit odd hearing the voice in front of me, and not directly in my earphones!

Another talk was given by Dr Paul Woods, also from Jodrell Bank, entitled Chemistry in Space.  There were also a number of opportunities to ‘Ask An Astronomer’ all kinds of questions, such as ‘How many stars are there in the universe?’ , ‘What’s a black hole?’ and ‘Do you believe in alternate universes?’.  These and many other mind-boggling questions were answered with good humour and in simple language by the Jodrell Bank team.

Afterwards, the intention had been to take telescopes out onto the street outside of the museum, and do some actual stargazing.  But the Manchester weather wasn’t co-operating, so this had to be abandoned :-(. It was the only disappointing aspect of the day – I had really been looking forward to having my first ever glimpse through a telescope, and hopefully getting to see Jupiter more clearly.  Still, the planet’s been around for 4.5 billion years, waiting another few evenings won’t make that much difference!

So the final port of call was the pub – the Jodrell Bank team had definitely earned a rest after their busy day, so we retired to a local hostelry (named for the occasion as Jodpub 2, the first Jodpub event having taken place last September).  Personally, it was lovely to be able to meet the presenters and people who work on the podcast behind the scenes – their enthusiasm and knowledge is something I really appreciate on the podcasts, and even more so face to face.  And it was nice to meet up with other podcast listeners, too, although not too many could actually make it to central Manchester on Saturday.

All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable and information-filled day, and another few pieces of knowledge gathered on my quest towards understanding what’s up there.

Still looking for clear skies though …

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