Stargazing Live is back for its seventh year with a completely new view of the night sky – live, from the other side of the world! Although one does wonder how they are going to manage the night sky live when it will be Wednesday morning in Australia when this show broadcasts!
Professor Brian Cox and Dara O Briain have packed their sunscreen and headed to Australia to gaze up at a sky that will be completely unfamiliar to viewers in the UK, packed full of the most astonishing features from constellations like the Southern Cross – famously featured on Australia’s flag – to jewel-like clusters of stars and perfectly positioned planets.
But capping it all is the most remarkable view of the Milky Way, arching overhead like a river of stars. Join them live as they finish a long night under the stars, and as dawn approaches in Australia.
Brian and Dara are joined by Liz Bonnin on the mountain, and will have Australian outback-astronomer Greg Quicke as their guide to the southern sky. Surrounded by kangaroos, snakes and spiders, Greg will reveal the wonderful star-tales told by indigenous people, such as the great Emu in the sky; Liz Bonnin will report on her mission to catch a shooting star, Dara will tempt us to visit the closest planet outside our solar system, and Brian will reveal how Australia came to the rescue of the stricken Apollo 13 moon mission.
Throughout the programme they’ll be asking for viewers’ help in some incredible scientific research – hoping to find the missing 9th planet in the Solar System.
Home for the series is a remote mountain top in New South Wales, site of the world-famous Siding Spring Observatory, which boasts over 50 telescopes including Australia’s two biggest. The remote mountain sits beside the Warrumbungle National Park, celebrated for its dark skies. It will give Brian and Dara an unprecedented view of a night sky that can never be seen from the UK, because Australia looks directly into the heart of the Milky Way galaxy. And it’s the perfect time to be there: the summer skies have been washed clean of dust by Australia’s autumn rains, the earth’s tilt is pointing Australia right towards the centre the Milky Way, and the New Moon means the night will be as dark as it ever gets – perfect for Stargazing.
Pictured is Night falls over the Siding Spring Observatory, Stargazing Live’s home in Australia
Stargazing Live Australia Episode 1 (of 3) airs on Tuesday 28 March 2017 from 8.00pm-9.00pm on BBC Two