Members of the Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation were extremely busy in March 2015, making astrophysics and cosmology accessible to the public through a variety of ways from events to TV appearances.
Dancing in the Dark – The End of Physics?
ICG Director Professor Bob Nichol featured in an episode of Horizon about dark matter and dark energy, first shown on BBC Two on Tuesday 17th March. The Horizon crew accompanied Bob on an observing trip to Chile, stopping along the way to explain the evidence for dark matter in galaxy rotation curves (see the clip below). The episode, ‘Dancing in the Dark – The End of Physics?’, is available on the BBC iPlayer until 21st April 2015.
Eclipse 2015 with the Big Screen
On Friday 20th March over 1000 members of the public gathered in Guildhall Square with astronomers from the Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation to view a partial solar eclipse. Efforts to observe the eclipse from Portsmouth were unfortunately thwarted by thick cloud, but a special edition of BBC Stargazing Live was shown on the Big Screen, with a live feed of the eclipse from a plane over the Faroe Islands. 37 year 7 school pupils from Charter Academy, Admiral Lord Nelson School and Priory School also attended the event, participating in eclipse-related activities.
Photographs from the morning can be seen on the ICG facebook page, and the event was covered twice by The News:
- Clouds prove a barrier as people gather in Portsmouth for the solar eclipse
- Crowds in good spirits despite Portsmouth solar eclipse disappointment
Lottie Stargazer Doll
ICG Senior Lecturer Dr Karen Masters acted as the astronomical consultant for a new astronomer-themed doll that was launched in March. The Stargazer Lottie doll is part of a collection of ‘pro-girl’ dolls, with a body that is based on the proportions of a real life nine year old, practical clothes and no make-up or jewellery. Stargazer Lottie is dressed in warm clothes suitable for a night of observing, and comes with her own telescope, a set of special solar system collector cards and information about female astronomical trailblazers. Read more about Stargazer Lottie on the University of Portsmouth website.
Stargazing Live 2015 at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard
Around 450 members of the public attended the ICG’s annual Stargazing Live event at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard on Tuesday 24th March, with activities taking place at Action Stations and on board HMS Warrior 1860. Despite poor weather in the run-up to the event, the skies cleared during the evening, allowing many attendees to have their first look at the Moon and Jupiter through telescopes on the top deck of HMS Warrior 1860.
Hands-on activities and demonstrations related to cosmology, stargazing, space and navigation were provided by the ICG, The Portsmouth Grammar School, Airbus Defence & Space, Hampshire Astronomical Group and Action Stations. ICG members were joined by undergraduate students from the Applied Physics course and the Physics Society to run some activities. There were also talks on amateur astronomy, astronavigation and cosmology throughout the evening. Photographs from the event are on the ICG facebook page.
The ICG schools programme continued through March, engaging with over 500 school children through regular schools outreach activities and one-off events. These included A Visit from Space at Newbridge Junior School, Astrodome shows at Brune Park Community School and Crookhorn College, a special International Women’s Day planetarium show for year 9 students at the Winchester Science Centre, and a Women of the Future Ambassadors Programme event.