More Stargazing Live please

Over the past three days the BBC has done what it does best; it has produced three hours of prime-time programming that has educated, informed and entertained. Even better, has been the fact that it has been about astronomy. Oh, and it showcased British telescopes working across the electromagnetic spectrum.

It was hosted from Jodrell Bank by Dara O'Briain and Brian Cox with live link-ups to locations on Hawaii with Liz Bonnin. We had segments about meteor watching, solar eclipse viewing and multi-wavelength astronomy. We saw newly released images from ESA's Herschel satellite. We even had radio interferometry described live on air.

There were some minor niggles: some people on Twitter didn't like Jonathon Ross, there were some minor inaccuraces (understandable given it was live), and an extra female presenter would have made a better balance (can Lucie Green join the team?). Those are minor complaints though. Overall, it communicated excitement in astronomy to the nation and the overwhelming majority of people seem to have loved it. The overnight viewing figures show that it had 3.6 and 3.2 million viewers on the first two nights making it by far the most popular thing on BBC Two.

Away from the TV screen the programme has certainly had an impact. The #BBCStargazing hashtag was trending worldwide a couple of times and Amazon in the UK has, reportedly, almost sold out of planispheres and telescopes! There will also be over 300 astronomy events around the country over the coming weeks so be sure to check them out.

It is this sort of big-event, unafraid-to-be-intelligent, programming that makes the BBC great. This is what the license fee can do. Can we have some more please?

Posted in astro blog by Stuart on Wednesday 05th Jan 2011 (21:25 GMT) | Permalink
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