Hundreds of people turned their eyes skywards earlier this month to explore the universe at a free stargazing event for the local public.
University of Portsmouth astronomers hosted the event with Action Stations and HMS Warrior 1860 at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, to tie in with the BBC’s Stargazing Live TV programmes.
Budding astronomers and amateur stargazers were given the opportunity to look through telescopes, learn how sailors navigate by the stars and find out more about the universe.
The event was organised by the University’s Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation in collaboration with Action Stations and HMS Warrior 1860.
Dr Jen Gupta, astrophysicist and outreach officer, said: “This was the fourth annual Stargazing Live event that we’ve held at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard and we think it was the best one yet.
“There has been so much excitement about our alumnus and astronaut Tim Peake launching into space we wanted to build on this by inviting people to come along and learn about stargazing, navigation, cosmology and space.
“It was a bit overwhelming to see the event sell out so fast – we had over 1,100 booked on and 250 on the waiting list, with half of the tickets snapped up within a week of sales going live.
“The weather was fantastic all night – a first for us. It was brilliant to be able to show so many people their first glimpse through a telescope, and tell them about our world-class cosmology research.”
University astrophysicists, cosmologists and physics students were joined by Hampshire Astronomical Group and Airbus Defence & Space to talk to attendees about the night sky, space exploration and cosmology, while staff and volunteers from HMS Warrior 1860 and Action Stations were on hand with activities on navigation and rockets.
Director of the Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation, Professor David Wands, said: “This year’s Stargazing Live event was a great fun community occasion and it was wonderful to see members of the public enthused and inspired by the activities on offer.
“It was also fantastic to see scientists in the department explaining their work and being reminded of the excitement and wonder which first attracted them to the study of cosmology.”
This story has been reproduced from the University of Portsmouth website. More photos from the event are available on the Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation’s facebook page.