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  • BBC Stargazing LIVE

    Monday 16th January 2012, 5.30pm to 9.00pm.

    Visitors to Stargazing LIVE 2012 (notice Venus in the sky above)

    Dr Chris Simpson

    In collaboration with the BBC, Astronomers from John Moores University along with visitors from around the North West toured the universe from the Mersey Ferry the Royal Daffodil. Clear skies and a calm river produced a great night for some city centre star gazing. LJMU Astrophysicist Dr Chris Simpson commented "It was fantastic to see so many people of all ages turn out on such a cold night. I hope we managed to instil a little of the magic of astronomy." Chris delivered a talk below deck while on deck Dr Chris Leigh guided visitors across the night sky pointing out interesting objects such as Jupiter and the constellation of Orion.
    During the night the team also received an automated text message from the fully automated Liverpool Telescope (in the Canary Islands) notifying them of the Gamma Ray Burst detection. These are the most energetic explosions since the big bang and very important in modern astronomy. The alert from the NASA swift satellite automatically triggered our telescope to observe this burst which was situated in the constellation of Andromeda (which was visible from the ferry).

    Boarding the ferry.

    Some of the interesting questions asked last night were (answers below)...

    • How long would it take to drive to the Sun?
    • How many stars can we see tonight?
    • Why are the stars twinkling?

    Dr Andy Newsam Astronomer at LJMU greeted passengers and answered questions at the Ferry Terminal, he said that "seeing the grinning faces (and glowing cheeks!) coming off the ferry after a night of stargazing made all the effort worthwhile."

    Further information about Stargazing LIVE can be found on the BBC website: and if you are interested in astronomy visit the LJMU Astrophysics Research institute website


    • How long would it take to drive to the Sun? (Around 18 years)
    • How many stars can we see tonight? (About 1000 stars)
    • Why are the stars twinkling? (Our atmosphere only makes them look like they are twinkling – hot & cold air rising, pollution, etc - in fact, if you were to look at them from space they would look still)