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Stargazing Oxford

On Saturday, 21st January, Oxford Astrophysics held the event “Stargazing Oxford” as part of the BBC’s Stargazing LIVE string of events across the country. It was an occasion that brought together the whole of Astrophysics at Oxford (and many people from the Physics department at large) to bring astronomy to the general public. The hugely successful event saw about 1,200 people attending, which makes you think that the particle physicists were quite right when they said that astronomers have it easy when it comes to public outreach! But joking aside, I do think that astronomy has a special place amongst the sciences, in that it has huge potential to inspire one and all to lift their gaze, look at the skies, and find the common thread that links us all: We are all children of the stars. It is a perspective that dissolves man-made geographical divisions and makes us look at ourselves from a completely different point of view – a very optimistic one for all of humanity. And whilst it is quite evident that on the grand scale of things we are truly insignificant, we are nonetheless special, for we have looked up and understood. And the game is still not over yet, as we are still grappling with countless questions that still need to be answered. Whilst not everyone who ever looked up at the sky as a child became an astronomer, astronomy is nevertheless a subject that many people remain interested in throughout their lives. Now, needless to say, I am a champion for doing astronomy for its own sake – that is, just for “the pleasure of finding things out”, to borrow Feynman’s own words. But let us not forget that by drawing the attention of many curious little minds, astronomy has time and again been the starting point for budding scientists of all sorts. And scientists are the people who in the long run drive economic development. So that’s a short message for any, shall we say, budding politicians, who might stumble upon this post! Alas, political messages aside, I cannot hide my true colours, and for all I care we should keep doing astronomy for the same reason that men of old told their stories and sang their songs about the stars: because the universe is awe-inspiring and mesmerizingly beautiful, both to our eyes and to our minds. Stargazing Oxford was an occasion that reminded us all why we do what we do, and made us realize how lucky we are to be working in a field as exciting as astronomy. So here are some photos from the event. By no means have I uploaded all of them yet (there are many, many more coming up!). So watch this space over the coming days, as I continue to upload more pictures. Congratulations to all for a fantastic day! To all of you out there: Keep your child-like wonder and keep asking questions!

1 Comment:

Hi Joseph
Brilliant day and thank you so much for taking such amazing photographs. I too think children are brilliant because they get so excited and curious about EVERYTHING. They inspired me with their ‘child-like’ wonder and my head was buzzing with exciting new ideas for future projects. In this respect I never want to ‘grow-up.’

Thanks again,and best wishes, Marion

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