Hana shows off a comet
It was all hands on deck the night of 17th January 2012 as 25 members of ICG helped with the major BBC StargazingLIVE event happening at the Spinnaker Tower. Spinnaker Tower was specially selected by the BBC to be the flagship StargazingLIVE event for the South Coast, and ICG researchers were immediately asked to support the event at this iconic landmark (which some of the ICG can see out of their office windows!).
ICG activities ranged from a spectacular demonstration of how to make a comet, to astronomically themed crafts for kids (solar system on a string, galaxy mobile, and make your own planisphere), collaborating with A-level students from the local Portsmouth Grammar School on some real science experiments, providing "Science on Tap" at the "Genius" bar (with a link to our successful "From the Earth to the Edge of the Universe" series of video shorts) and showing off some amazing "Rocks from Space" which are as old as the solar system itself. Up the tower we provided guided tours of the cloudy night sky with the help of iPads (using the free [http://www.qcontinuum.org/planets/ Planets app]), explained how we detect extrasolar planets, and helped out with the [http://www.planethunters.org/ Planethunters] quest to [http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-16612181 find a new planet]. Finally 105 metres from the ground on Level 2 of the tower, ICG experts discussed the biggest questions in the universe: What are galaxies? How did the Universe begin? What is the mysterious dark matter? What do we know about dark energy?
SEPnet outreach officers from other universities also helped out, with Sadie Jones from Southampton demonstrating the World Wide Telescope software, and Simon Reynolds from Royal Hollaway bringing along the "build the universe" kit and particle zoo.
BBC South Today came live from the event on Tuesday night, showing off some of the activities on offer, and giving a glimpse of ICG PhD Hana Schumacher making a comet live on air. The BBC2 StargazingLIVE show on Wednesday night showed the switch off of the Spinnaker Tower lights which happened for the event. Portsmouth News also has [http://www.portsmouth.co.uk/news/local/east-hampshire/stars_in_their_eyes_1_3428801 some coverage].
Many people tweeted about their enjoyment of the event. You can read a collection of tweets about it on [http://storify.com/KarenLMasters/bbc-stargazing-live-at-spinnaker-tower Storify].
(The full list of ICG members involved in the event is Rita Tojeiro, Karen Masters, Hana Schumacher, Angela Burden, Tom Melvin, Timothy Clemson, David Bacon, Alejo Martinez-Sansigre, Oliver Steele, Taichi Kidani, Christian Fidler, Tim Higgs, Dan Thomas, Emma Beynon, Dominic Galliano, Andreas Papadopoulos, Edd Edmondson, Diego Capozzi, Jon Emery, Chris D'Andrea, Will Percival, Rob Crittenden, David Wands, Daniel Thomas and David Wilkinson.)