In January 2013 the third series of BBC Stargazing LIVE took place all over the UK. In Northern Ireland the main event was held at the beautiful setting of Lough Neagh Discovery Centre on Thursday 10th January.
Again Armagh Observatory were one of the partners with the BBC and held events where staff Mark Bailey (Director), Alex Martin (PhD Student), Libby McKearney (UK EU-UNAWE National Project Manager) and guests met and chatted to the public during the evening event for families.
Earlier that morning EU-UNAWE-organised solar system activities were provided for 117 school children. The Observatory were delighted that their German EU-UNAWE colleague Natalie Fischer accepted their invitation to come along and Natalie presented 3 afternoon sessions on the Constellations.
76 children from St Patrick’s PS Armagh, St Teresa’s PS Lurgan and King’s Park PS Lurgan were treated to Natalie’s excellent interactive session on making their own constellations, stories on the recognised constellations and how to spot them in the night sky. They also received postcards to help with that observing. The children’s rapt attention was held right to the end of each session and adults were amazed at how much these young children already knew about their universe – a credit to them, their teachers and parents! Astronomy really seems to be inspiring these young people.
Official BBC figures for the whole day (9:45am to 10pm) at LNDC were 3,000 including the 2,500 attending in the evening. This exceeded everyone’s expectations, well done to all at the BBC for coordinating the event, especially Aoife!
The joint Stargazing/EU-UNAWE activities continued the next morning with a planned visit by Natalie, Mark and Libby to Aughnacloy Primary School, 25 km from Armagh. There the pupils were joined by their neighbouring school St Mary’s PS for a morning of astronomy with work on our place in the universe, constellations, observing and upcoming, exciting things to watch out for this year such as the Near Earth Object on Feb 15th and the expected 2 bright comets in March and before Christmas.
Children were delighted to receive a Stargazing LIVE booklet each, something perhaps that they will treasure for years and that often can become the catalyst for a child’s future career in astronomy. Friday’s school-based activities reached 90 young children who interacted with great genuine interest throughout the morning, again a credit to their schools and families! Thanks to both of these schools, their Principals and teachers for taking part.
After these few very busy days Natalie returned to Heidelberg, Germany with our gratitude for being so inspirational to our local children and schools. View images from the events to the right on this page and then hear Natalie and Mark’s BBC Radio interview below: