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Tuesday, 8 November 2011

[BAA-ebulletin 00626] BBC Stargazing Live 2012 and UK astronomers

BAA electronic bulletin

Dear BAA members,

We have been asked to relay the following message to the UK astronomy community from the BBC Stargazing LIVE team. This is a good opportunity for UK astronomers - professional and amateur astronomers and astronomy communicators - to get involved with this popular television series to be broadcast on 16-18 January 2012.

All the national organisations involved in the UK Dark Sky Discovery partnership ( are sending this message to their members and contacts in the astronomy community to encourage them to support the Stargazing LIVE efforts.

Best wishes,
David Boyd, Vice President
2011 November 3


Stargazing LIVE (to be broadcast 16-18 January 2012)

1) Stargazing LIVE really captured the public's imagination during January 2011. Almost four million people watched each episode live on BBC Two and more than another two million downloaded the Stargazing LIVE Star Guide produced by BBC Learning to accompany the series. Across the UK more than 180 partners held over 300 Stargazing LIVE events.  In total more than 40,000 people attended and had a taste of astronomy, many for the very first time. We were really impressed, and we want Stargazing LIVE 2012 to be even bigger and better. The series returns to BBC Two on January 16th 2012. We're currently in the process of planning new programme content and resources and are encouraging our partners to think about how they might like to get involved.

2) The timing of series one, in early January 2011, meant that the majority of schools were on holiday and unable to hold their own Stargazing activities. This year, a later transmission date which falls within term time means we hope both primary and secondary schools will engage with the project. We have commissioned a range of Stargazing resources for schools and plan to produce a Schools Events Pack and host a Stargazing LIVE schools webcast on Thursday 19th January 2012. Many schools lack the astronomical knowledge and confidence to host their own Stargazing events though, and whilst BBC Learning can provide resources (including the new 2012 version of our fantastic Star Guide) we don't have sufficient staff on the ground to send someone to every school to help out. This is where you come in. Do you have the expertise to offer support to a school wanting to hold their own Stargazing event? Perhaps you could advise on activities, share best telescope practice or give up a couple of hours to answer questions from small, curious minds. The BBC has a network of Learning Project Managers around the UK who can 'match-make' astronomy professionals with schools near them, and you can give as little or as much time as you can. If you would like to get involved, please email with your geographical location and contact details and we'll be in touch.

Of course it's not just schools. Scout and Guide groups have shown interest in Stargazing 2012 and we've also had enquiries from tourist attractions and venues large and small offering space and facilities for Stargazing LIVE events. This is a really exciting opportunity. Many of the fantastic clubs and societies who ran events last year reported having twice as many people attend than they were expecting, meaning sometimes things got a little squashed. Larger spaces mean more people can enjoy events and have their own astronomy 'wow!' moment, but of course a lot of these venues don't have the astronomy expertise needed to make Stargazing a success. Once again, we're looking for astronomers who are willing to advise at events like these, provide expertise and answer questions, and if you'd like to get involved the contact details are as above.

3) Of course we'd like you to think about holding your own Stargazing events for 2012 too, and the way we share those on the BBC Stargazing website has changed. Things To Do, the BBC's new event planner, lets people find free and non-commercial activities by the BBC and our partners connected to BBC TV, Radio & Campaigns. Visitors to the website can simply enter a postcode and find hundreds of activities going on in their area. The site will make it easier for people who are interested to find out about your events next year, not only during Stargazing LIVE but on an ongoing basis. If you already know what you're planning to do for 2012, or before, you can start uploading your events to our website straight away. Any activities running up to the end of December and from the start of February should be uploaded against the Countryfile project. BBC One's flagship rural news show are outdoor and adventure champions and will continue promoting Things To Do fortnightly on their Sunday shows. (The project offer can be found at
.Any activities running throughout January should be uploaded against the Stargazing LIVE project to make the most of broadcast trails and the live show. (The project offer can be found at Please visit 
 take a look at the project offer and feel free to to start uploading your activities straight away. if you have questions about how Things To Do can work for your organisation email the team at

In January 2011 there were some wonderfully creative collaborations that combined astronomy with other activities, like 'Starlings and Starlight' in which Mexborough and Swinton Astronomical Society joined birdwatching and astronomy, and a guided night-time cycling tour of the scale model of the solar system organised by the University of York. We really look forward to seeing what you come up with in 2012!

Kind regards,

Stargazing LIVE
BAA-ebulletin mailing list visit:
(c) 2011 British Astronomical Association

Good Clear Skies
Colin James Watling
Various Voluntary work-Litter Picking for Parish Council (Daytime) and also a friend of Kessingland Beach (Watchman)
Real Astronomer and head of the Comet section for LYRA (Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth Regional Astronomers) also head of K.A.G (Kessingland Astronomy Group) and Navigator (Astrogator) of the Stars (Fieldwork)

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