astronomy television

The Gadget Show – astronomy apps and telescope tech

Back in December I spent a fun evening filming with the team from The Gadget Show in the spectacular ruins of Llanthony Priory, in Wales. We filmed a segment for the last episode in series 19, which aired on Monday, about astronomy apps and amateur telescopes. If you’re in the UK and you missed the broadcast you can watch it again by following this link to The Gadget Show video player.

Live astrophotography from the Brecon Beacons

One Show presenter Lucy Siegle talks to Will live from the Brecon Beacons. Credit: BBC

I had great fun on Wednesday night in the Brecon Beacons filming a series of live segments about astrophotography for the BBC’s The One Show. The idea behind the evening was that I would help a group of twenty amateur photographers take their first images of the night sky before judging which was the best shot. When we arrived at the filming location the sky was filled with clouds, but as the Sun set the clouds thankfully dissipated and the photographers managed to capture their pictures (even despite some quite substantial haze).

If you missed the programme, and are in the UK, you’ve got a few days left to catch it on the BBC’s iPlayer; the astrophotography bits can be found here, here and here. And if you’ve captured an astro image lately that you’re particularly pleased with, don’t forget to send it into the 2013 Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition, which is now open for entries.

The Gadget Show looks to the stars

Just a very quick post to say that, for anyone in the UK, I’ll be on Channel Five’s The Gadget Show tomorrow night (Monday 10th May) talking telescopes with presenter Jon Bentley. The programme starts at 8pm but I don’t know what time the section we filmed will be shown. The show has over 2.5 million viewers, so I’m hoping that there’ll be loads of people whose interest has been sufficiently piqued to find out what this astronomy lark is all about!

Update 11.05.10: The section of the show where we looked at telescopes is now online on The Gadget Show’s website here.

The Meteorite Men land on UK television

Just a quick heads up about an interesting new TV series that’s currently airing on Tuesdays at 10pm* on the UK Freeview television channel Quest (Freeview channel 38). It’s called Meteorite Men and follows expert meteorite hunters Steve Arnold and Geoff Notkin as they search the US countryside for pieces of Solar System debris that have fallen to Earth.

I caught the second episode by chance last week and I really enjoyed it. It turns out following the ups and downs of a meteorite hunt makes for really exciting television! The show has a great Mythbusters feel about it, by which I mean you actually learn quite a lot and it’s genuinely fun to watch. I’m not sure exactly how many episodes this series has but I hope it continues; I imagine it’ll get a lot of people interested in astronomy. With many meteorites falling on the Earth every year there’s certainly scope for another few series!

*Update: I’ve just seen that the show is also on Quest on Mondays at 9pm.
Update no. 2: Tavi Greiner mentions in the comments that an interview she & Rob Keown did with Geoff of the Meteorite Men is available on their blog here:

400 years in one night

Here’s a quick heads-up for some astronomy related television due to be aired in the next few days. This International Year of Astronomy marks the 400th anniversary of the first use of the telescope for astronomical purposes, by the English astronomer Thomas Harriot and later the great Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei. This coming Wednesday (the 7th January) BBC Four will be celebrating this with a night of four programmes about the telescope and astronomy. The evening kicks off at 8:00pm with a special hour long episode of The Sky At Night entitled “Light Fantastic”. The programme covers the four century long history of the astronomical telescope as well as an interview with one of the astronauts who fixed the Hubble Space Telescope.

hubblefloatingHubble is just one of the stars of Wednesday night’s TV coverage. Credit: NASA


After The Sky At Night, at 9:00pm, there’s a documentary about the history of Hubble. Then at 10:00pm there’s a new documentary called “BLAST!“, billed by its producers as “astrophysics Indiana Jones style!”. It follows a group of astronomers who journey to the Arctic and Antarctica, in order to launch the Balloon-borne Large-Aperture Sub-millimeter Telescope (a.k.a BLAST) on a high-altitude balloon, to study the formation of high redshift (and therefore very distant) galaxies.

Finally then the evening rounds off, back down to Earth, with Adam Hart-Davis who presents a look at “Britain’s 40,000 amateur astronomers” with appearances from Colin Pillinger, Terry Pratchett and Patrick Moore. And before you settle down to watch this little lot of TV, don’t forget to look outside to see the Moon occulting (that’s moving in front of) the Pleiades star cluster — at about 17:15 UT. The Moon will be about 45 degrees high in the east at this time and should look great, in front of the cluster, through a good pair of binoculars. What better way to kick off the International Year of Astronomy 2009!