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Little stars get to shine at stargazing event

26 January 2019

The annual public stargazing event returned to Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) for the eighth year. The hugely successful and sell-out event is the biggest recurring on-site public engagement event hosted at RAL.

Earlier in the afternoon, there was an autism-friendly stargazing event where visitors could engage with the activities in a quieter and calmer environment away from the noise and hustle and bustle of the crowds attracted to the main event.

The spectacular line up of events for the evening included a variety of hands-on activities such as rocket-making, planet-painting, a planetarium show, putting marshmallows in a vacuum (spoiler alert: they expand… a lot!), designing alien passports and a comet show.

The cloud cover meant there were few opportunities to see the stars, but they did come out once or twice during the evening, allowing families to marvel at the wonders of the Universe.

The event’s partners, Newbury Astronomy Society, ran a series of hands-on-activities and gave a talk, “Fantastic telescopes and how to align them”, giving visitors expert advice on how to set up their telescopes and make the most of these windows into the cosmos.

Experts from the ISIS Neutron and Muon Source and our partners Diamond Light Source were also on hand to explain to the crowds how scientists are using particle accelerators to learn more about space: from space weather to meteorites.

Head of Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Andrew Taylor, said, “We are passionate about our science and engineering and we love nothing better than sharing that enthusiasm, involving the public with the cutting edge research that takes place here at RAL. There were more than 60 members of staff helping out, talking about how we explore Space not just with our satellites and telescopes but with our particle accelerators and other facilities.”

STFC is committed to inspiring the next generation of scientists. Our public engagement events, like Stargazing at RAL, encourage the younger generation to get hands-on and participate with exciting science. To find out more about upcoming events, please email the RAL Public Engagement team.

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Last updated: 25 February 2019


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