Date: 
Friday, January 6, 2012 - 10:45

The Eden Project will be hosting a free evening of astronomy as part of the BBC’s Stargazing Live between 6pm and 9.30pm on Tuesday January 17.

Visitors can find out about the stars of our galaxy by using a variety of professional telescopes, taking a virtual visit to distant corners of the universe in a portable planetarium, seeing live feeds from observatories around the world and handling and studying meteorites through microscopes.

There will also be a chance to see a big lights switch-off in the Biome and hear talks from experts on the night sky, life and death of stars, astronomical photography and much more.

For younger visitors there’ll be a range of activities including a workshop about the locations of the moon landings and astronomy-themed colouring-in.

Eden is working with the Roseland Observatory and the University of Plymouth on the evening’s programme.

Michelle Andrews, Learning Project Manager at BBC South West, said: “We’re really looking forward to bringing Stargazing Live to the Eden Project. There’ll be a whole galaxy of interesting activities and talks for both newcomers and experienced astronomers alike.”

Stargazing Live, co-produced by the Open University, returns for a second three-night series on BBC Two to encourage everyone to learn more about the night sky. It will be broadcast on BBC Two over three nights – January 16 to 18 - and Eden is due to be part of the final two programmes.

Presenters Professor Brian Cox and Dara O Briain will broadcast live from the control room of the Jodrell Bank Observatory in Cheshire, interacting live with the audience and calling on a starry collection of the country’s finest astronomical minds to explore the majestic wonders of the skies above Britain.

The pair will tackle some of the most intriguing questions in astronomy, such as “why does the moon cause the tides?”, “how do we know where black holes are when they are impossible to see?” and “what will we actually say if we ever make contact with an alien race?” There will also be hints and tips for getting started in stargazing and advice on navigating your way around the skies.

Last year, up to 40,000 people took part in stargazing astronomy activities in the UK. This year, BBC Learning and the Stargazing Live team are hoping even more people get involved, with hundreds of events and “star parties” being organised from Lands End to Aberdeen with the help of partners around the country.

Bringing together astronomical societies, telescope demonstrations, interactive activities, AV media, talks, recitals, planetarium investigations and astrophotography, these events will contribute to a national stargazing celebration – some of which will be shown live on air.

Young people from Glasgow, Salford and London are taking part in a unique stargazing musical project at Jodrell Bank in collaboration with BBC’s The Lab. They’ll be working with three BBC orchestras and music producers to collect sounds from space using the Lovell Space Telescope and turn them into electronic tracks that will be played on BBC radio stations in January.

BBC Learning has created a range of free resources, available at events and to download from the website in January, including a new and improved Stargazing Live Star and Moon Guide for every beginner, keen to get started on the astronomy basics. The trusty companion guide shows how to observe the sky and spot major craters and the sites of the Apollo Moon landings, keeping the amateur astronomer busy all year round.

Throughout the series, star-fanatics snappers are being asked to submit their astronomy snaps online, with Brian and Dara showing a selection of pictures on-air.

There are collectible Planetary Activity Cards to help youngsters to learn about the solar system and downloadable audio and video guides to talk beginners through the process of getting to grips with astronomy.

Across the UK on Saturday January 14, BBC Big Screens will host stargazing lunchtime events and be live-linking to the Faulkes Telescope in Hawaii for a taste of the stars in the daytime.

Astronomical activities and games will include an interactive game created for Stargazing Live 2012. You can interact with the BBC Big Screen and experts (including Professor Brian Cox) will answer 20 burning questions about the universe. There will also be a demonstration of tablet computer star apps that you can use to learn more about the skies.

To find out your nearest event, submit your own astronomy snaps or download the ever popular Star and Moon Guides to help you start your astronomy journey, visit bbc.co.uk/stargazing.