RAL Stargazing event220The Annual Stargazing event at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory took place on Friday 12 February.  Like most events this year it held special significance, and was extremely popular, in part due to ESA UK Astronaut Tim Peake being in orbit aboard the International Space Station.

Families were invited to take part in a number of exciting activities including talks from RAL scientists, rocket building and planetarium shows, such as the 'We are Aliens' planetarium show created by NSC Creative.

The National Space Academy along with the Satellite Applications Catapult supported the event which reached roughly 600 people, many of whom took part in an activity to understand the way in which satellite technology is helping to combat illegal fishing. The activity tasks children to build a satellite and a boat, and connect the two together; so that the boat can always be found by the satellite.

Chris Duff from the Satellite Applications Catapult said of the activity:

It is a really great activity as it is very hands-on, but at the same time teaches the kids and families about the impact we as humans have on our environments, and that we are using technology, such as satellites to solve many of the global crises such as sustainable fishing. I remember even in my lifetime, when cod was no longer available due to overfishing, and only now due to appropriate regulation are we in a position to fish them again in a responsible and sustainable way.

Sophy Palmer, from the STFC RAL Public Engagement Team said:

Each year the Stargazing event is a great opportunity for the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory to present, to families and children of all ages, the research going on at the Lab. It is a really fun event as so many staff get involved to showcase their work, and there are plenty of activities for the children to take part in. The British weather doesn't always comply, but it is a testament to the staff that we can run a stargazing event even on a cloudy day!