Keighley Astronomical society were the lead astronomers at this years Bradford Stargazing Live. The event was organised with the BBC following on from the success of the Stargazing programme presented by Prof Brian Cox and comedian and Physicist Dara Ó Briain. Space Connections, which run and organise the city’s annual science festival, invited Keighley Astronomical Society and it’s members to take part in this event.
The city’s Mirror Pool was drained and the lights surrounding the pool turned off to allow people to search the skies through the societies telescopes. However as with the Yorkshire weather, it started as a soft evening and turned into a downpour. However we went for plan B and moved to the adjacent Fosters Bistro, where the operation of the telescopes was explained to eager young astronomers. Observations officers Samantha Hodgson and Jonathan Rushworth. Had a small but interested crowd.
The event had many other attractions and activities which were not dependant on the weather. Footage from the Bradford Robotic Telescope, which is operated by the city’s university but based on a cliffside on Mount Teide Tenerife. Was showing images on the big screen in the city park as well as several space exploration videos.
Adjacent to the park, the new city library hosted talks by two members of the Royal Astronomical Society. Dr Robert Massey, the secretary of the Royal Astronomical Society, provided several presentations in which with the aid of items such as dry ice and Worchester sauce he constructed the basis of a comet and this was the core of his lecture on comets, asteroids.
Dr Usama Hasan is senior researcher in Islamic studies at the Quilliam Foundation, and a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society presented a talk about the history of Islam and astronomy.
City Hall hosted an inflatable planetarium dome, which can hold up to 30 people at time. It was in great demand proving up to 14 presentations one after the other as the evening progressed.
Children had the chance to try rocket building and sample real astronaut food. The event was partly funded by Bradford Council’s diversity and cohesion team as it aims to bring together different communities in Bradford to stargaze together in the City Park. Helen Barraclough from Space Connections said the event built on the success of a project which the charity has been running in Bradford using Islam’s links with astronomy as a way of promoting science to children attending madras’s in the city.
Council leader Councillor David Green said: “The event was a great way of allowing people who have an interest in astronomy, at all levels, to learn more from the experts and participate in an exploration of the night sky while enjoying the surroundings of Bradford’s award winning City Park.”
The Bradford Robotic Telescope, which was used for the event, is a collection of telescopes and other instruments, which is based in Mount Teide, Tenerife.
The university says the observatory, situated at an altitude of 2,400 metres, is the best of in Europe. Bradford’s Robotic Telescope can be used remotely by visitors to a website and is regularly used by schools.
Society Chairperson Paul Neaves said, “It was a pleasure for KAS to be invited and to take part in this event. It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening for all who attended”.