What did people think of this years series? I found it rather flat though I did enjoy seeing the southern sky again. For a programme with the title “Star Gazing Live” I felt that there was very little of that. Also the footage of wildlife, to me, was unnecessary. Did anyone get or learn anything new about astronomy?
Didn’t see it at all, but TBH I haven’t rushed to watch it on iPlayer. I always feel a bit as though Dara O’Briain is trying to be Brian Cox and Brian Cox is trying to be Dara O’Briain. And only one of them is coming close to succeeding.
I thought this year’s SGL was excellent! It was educational as well as entertainingly presented and I loved the refreshing new location of down under. The few moments of wildlife were lovely salad dressing for the main astronomical feast. But the three part series covered a lot of good astronimical stuff.
Basing this one in Australia was a great one off idea as most of us hardly know anything about the southern hemisphere skies and I for one learnt a lot from this. How they used the Southern Cross to navigate to other stellar features, like how we use Orions Belt and Ursa Major as navigator pointer. The wonderful cosmic objects that can be only seen from that side such as the Megallanic clouds and a globular cluster that has a star even older than the ones in we see from our hemisphere such as the M13 and M92. Its 13.6 billion years old, that’s just 200 million years after the big bang. This lead to a feature on how star age is determined by basically looking at what elements are missing from the star through spectroscopy.
They explained and demonstrated why and how our earth tilt and rotations make our familiar constellations look different in the southern hemisphere, including the moon phases. Why the Milky Way looks so much richer as the centre core of the galaxy is more prominent in the southern hemisphere, again all to do with the tilt of our planet and our place on the “Orion arm”.
We also learnt about the story of how an Australian radio dish helped saved the crew of Apollo 13, a fact I never knew about and I dont recall being mentioned in the movie (maybe it was but it was such a long time since I have seen it). A great story. We also learn from a guest aborigin about the their ancenctral ways of reading the constellations including a part of the Milky Way that looks like a huge Emu that comes to Earth during the harvesting times or something along that line and many other nice stories akin to those we enjoy about Orion the Hunter etc.
We followed Liz Bonning tagging along with a group of meteoroligsts, painstakingly attempting to find the holy grail, a comet fragment that is suspected to have fallen in a specific region in the outback. They have good reason to believe its there somewhere and will be the first comet fragment discovery on Earth which a lot more can be learned from about the solar system origins. They failed to find it but the search still continues. I hope they find it but it is literally a needle in the haystack kind of search.
Wildlife animals, Cox and Dara, as usual, mucks about but its all part of the charm of the show’s live dynamic. I enjoy that sort of thing, again, its salad dressing. Actually, Cox surprisingly gets a little annoyingly childish sometimes as Dara, the actual comedian but more composed presenter has to rein him in a bit. These two have gelled over the years as I remember their very first show when I thought they were going to punch each other. They were quite a clash of character but over the years they sussed themselves out and became an enjoyable pairing. Liz Bonnin has been a great addition to the team over the years too.
But the most unmissable thing in this year’s SGL was….Gandalf the White, or as Liz Bonnin called him, Space Gandalf. Well ok, his name is Greg. But oh man, where did they find this guy?! He is a mesmerising sight to behold, and was our glorious guide to the Australian night sky throughout the 3 episodes. Greg was definitely the highlight!
Now to keep the nation engaged in a practical way, Chris Lintott invited the audience in the hunt for planet nine. In the end, no one discovered planet nine but a couple of new asteroids were discovered in the process as a byproduct discovery.
Previous SGL encourages societies to get out stargazing during those nights of broadcasting and show locals in different parts of UK looking through telescopes…well looking at the camera to say “hi mum, I’m on da telly”. This year’s SGL didnt have that. Does it matter? Was that crucial to inspire stargazing. Personally, I dont think so. This was a refreshing change and I learnt quite a lot from it and I absolutely dug watching Kangaroos hopping systematically around an observatory…so damn cute!
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