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University of Leicester announces stellar line-up for Stargazing LIVE 2014

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University of Leicester announces stellar line-up for Stargazing LIVE 2014

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Published by University of Leicester Press Office for University of Leicester in Communities and also in Education, Environment

Image taken at Stargazing LIVE 2013. Credit: University of Leicester Image taken at Stargazing LIVE 2013. Credit: University of Leicester

If you ever wondered where all our stars came from, what an alien would actually look like or what it is like to explore the surface of Mars, you can find out as the University of Leicester once again hosts a night of talks and activities dedicated to all things astronomical.

The past year has seen Leicester scientists discover the possible ingredients for ancient life on Mars, evidence for a new kind of cosmic explosion, the kilonova, and create the most extensive catalogue of cosmic X-rays in existence.

Now, those same scientists are throwing open their doors to space fans young and old and inviting them to share in the wonders of the universe and put their astronomical questions to experts in their fields.

Stargazing LIVE returns to the University of Leicester on Wednesday 8 January 2014. The event will kick off at 4pm with talks and interactive activities particularly suitable for younger astronomers and their families, then at 6pm begins a vast array of events that will appeal to visitors of all ages.

Attendance is free of charge and tickets are available to book at www.le.ac.uk/stargazinglive until Monday 16 December 2013. Places are limited so book early to avoid disappointment.

Among the many experts speaking on the day are Dr John Bridges, who will describe his exciting experiences working with the Curiosity Rover on Mars, exploring a new part of the Solar System with a rover capable of driving many kilometres with a set of powerful analytical instruments like X-ray spectrometers and cameras. The mission has already discovered rocks laid down in ancient lakes and determined that these areas were once habitable for microbial life.

You can join Dr Lewis Dartnell on a tour of the other planets and moons in our solar system which may harbour life, and even further afield to alien worlds orbiting distant stars, to explore one of the greatest questions ever asked: are we alone?

Dr Mark Wilkinson will consider the ingredients needed to build a galaxy and explore what we know (and what we don’t know) about how the cosmic soup of stars, gas, dust and dark matter produced the magnificent range of stars and galaxies that we see in the Universe today.

What’s more, you will have the opportunity to build and launch a rocket, try meteorite ice cream, learn about the size and scale of the solar system, and of course try a little ‘stargazing’: looking at the stars with enthusiasts from across the region (weather permitting!).

Professor Martin Barstow, Head of the College of Science and Engineering and incoming President of the Royal Astronomical Society, said: “The enthusiastic reaction by viewers to the flagship BBC programme Stargazing LIVE has demonstrated a huge appetite for hands-on astronomy events. We want to give everyone an opportunity to get engaged in astronomy and space science by visiting our Stargazing LIVE event at the University of Leicester, learn more about the research we do and have a great, fun evening.”

Dr Tracey Dickens of the Department of Physics and Astronomy said: “Stargazing LIVE at the University of Leicester gives people of all backgrounds and ages a chance to learn something new about astronomy and space science. Whether it is from the numerous talks, hands-on demos or interactive activities there is something for everyone.”

In 2013 Stargazing LIVE achieved huge success, inspiring thousands of people nationwide to go outside and stargaze! In January 2014 the series returns to BBC Two to investigate our night skies further and encourage more children, families and individuals across the UK to get out, about and starry eyed.

The next series is due to be broadcast on 7th, 8th and 9th January 2014 and Dara O’Briain and Professor Brian Cox will be returning to explore the wonders of the universe

Book your tickets now at www.le.ac.uk/stargazinglive. Tickets are free of charge and the deadline for bookings is Monday 16 December 2013.

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