The Astrophyics Group gets ready for the Astronomy Open Evening on 1 April.

Discover the stars with University astronomers

South west residents are invited to discover Space as never before.

The University of Exeter Astrophysics Group is hosting a special open evening on Wednesday 1 April 2009 to celebrate the International Year of Astronomy.

Adults and children alike can find out how research at Exeter is helping us understand how stars and planets form, watch hands-on demonstrations, and simply enjoy the awe-inspiring beauty of the night sky.

The International Year of Astronomy 2009 celebrates the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s observations through a telescope and the birth of modern astronomy. Involving more than 140 countries, IYA2009 gives people worldwide the chance to get involved in this amazing science and share the wonders of the night sky, which are freely available to all. During the week of 28 March to 5 April, thousands of people across the UK will be participating in the Spring Moonwatch, and Exeter is no exception.

Open to everyone and suitable for all ages, this free event includes a talk by popular science writer and broadcaster Ian Ridpath. Known to many as Sky News’ space correspondent, Ian Ridpath has over 40 book titles to his name, including the Collins Guide to Stars and Planets. In the anniversary year of the first moon landings, Ian will share his enthusiasm for Earth’s nearest neighbour in his talk Exploring the Moon.

Members of the University of Exeter’s Astrophysics Group will share their latest discoveries in talks, pictures and movies, and give hands-on demonstrations related to their research. They work with some of the world’s most powerful telescopes and fastest supercomputers and are involved with many of the big space missions, including the Hubble Space Telescope. Guests will find out more about how this research is changing our understanding of how stars and planets form.

Guests can enjoy a From Earth to the Universe exhibition of the best astronomy images, with local contributions from University scientists. Visitors of all ages will have the opportunity to try out telescopes and binoculars and, if the weather permits, join University astrophysicists in guided observations of the Moon, planets and star clusters in our Milky Way galaxy.

Dr Jennifer Hatchell of the University of Exeter’s School of Physics said: "As astronomers, we work with beautiful images of space and exciting new ideas every day. The International Year of Astronomy is a chance for everyone to experience these things, and we look forward to sharing them with our visitors.

The University of Exeter has one of the UK’s largest astrophysics groups working in the fields of star formation and exoplanet research. The group focuses on one of the most fundamental problems in modern astronomy – when do stars and planets form and how does it happen? They conduct observations with the world’s leading telescopes and carry out numerical simulations to study young stars, their planet-forming disks, and exoplanets. This research helps to put our Sun and the solar system into context and understand the variety of stars and planetary systems that exist in our Galaxy. Over the next three years, the University is investing £80 million in five areas of interdisciplinary scientific research, one of which is Extrasolar Planets.

Event details:
19.00, Wednesday 1 April 2009
Peter Chalk Centre
University of Exeter – Streatham Campus
FREE, booking not required

Date: 30 March 2009

Read more University News