10 Jan 2012

The sky's the limit with Stargazing LIVE and The Open University

Broadcast: 16 (8.30pm), 17 & 18 (8pm) January, BBC Two

Stargazing LIVE, the hugely popular BBC Two series enjoyed by millions is back for a second series. Accompanying the series, produced in partnership with The Open University, will be hundreds of live events across the country giving everyone - from amateurs to experts - the chance to get involved.

Presented by Professor Brian Cox, Dara O'Briain and Mark Thompson, the series will broadcast live from the control room of the Jodrell Bank radio observatory in Cheshire, over three nights.

Liz Bonnin will also appear live, reporting from the South African Astronomical Observatory near Cape Town, the home of SALT, the largest optical telescope in the Southern Hemisphere. Over the three nights, viewers will become Stargazing's eyes and ears across the country, as their images, feedback and questions are incorporated into the shows.

Highlights of the new series include an attempt to turn off every single light in the town of Dulverton in Somerset, as part of a Stargazing LIVE demonstration showcasing the beauty of a night sky free from the effects of light pollution, and a special guest appearance by Captain Eugene Cernan, the last man ever to walk on the surface of the moon.

Dr David Rothery, who chairs The Open University's planetary science course and is involved in the European Space Agency's mission to Mercury, said: "I learned my way round the night sky when I was a schoolboy in Birmingham. Stargazing LIVE will help other people achieve the same, and I hope it will also open their eyes to the amazing discoveries that have been made in our Solar System and beyond."

Lisa Ausden, Executive Producer for the BBC, says: "We were bowled over by the response to Stargazing LIVE last year, with some four million viewers tuning in to learn about the wonders of the night sky. We lucked out with a meteor making a live appearance, the international space station glinting into view overhead and some incredible images of the partial eclipse, photographed and sent in by our audience.

"This time we'll be switching off the lights of a whole town in Somerset to demonstrate the effects of light pollution, broadcasting live from Cape Town, and welcoming a very special guest, the last man to step foot on the moon. We will also be laying down a unique challenge to viewers to help us find a brand new planet. I, for one, cannot wait!"

The Open University is offering people inspired by Stargazing LIVE the chance to continue exploring the night skies. OpenLearn, its free interactive study site, offers insight into our solar system, constellations and space from astronomy and planetary experts, as well as tools such as the Virtual Planisphere, an interactive telescopic guide to the night sky.

With support from The Open University, BBC Learning is producing 80,000 copies of a free Star and Moon Guide that will be available at hundreds of special astronomy events held across the country to coincide with the series. The guide suggests ways to take the learning journey even further, through free courses, such as The Moon and The Sun, available on OpenLearn.

Editor's Notes
Stargazing LIVE is a partnership between The Open University and the BBC. The Executive Producer for the BBC is Lisa Ausden and the series producer is Alan Holland. The Open University academic consultants for the series are Dr Stephen Serjeant, Dr Andrew Norton and Dr David Rothery.

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