Stargazing Live reveals wonders of the universe

Thursday, 10 January 2013

john-runions

Dr John Runions, better known as Dr Molecule to listeners of BBC Radio Oxford, last night hosted the Stargazing Live event for the South of England.

The event took place at Newbury racecourse and was a regional element of BBC 2’s televised Stargazing Live programme broadcast over three nights this week.

Professor Brian Cox and comedian Dara O Briain broadcast from the control room of Jodrell Bank Observatory in Cheshire while regional events across the country were designed to encourage everyone - from beginners to enthusiastic amateurs - to make the most of the night sky.

The Newbury event was a sell-out attracting 2,000 visitors. The public were able to try hands-on activities, meet experts and find out more about astronomy.

John (pictured right) is a plant biologist who specialises in looking at living cells using high powered microscopes. He is also passionate about taking science out of the lab and to the wider public. He is a regular guest on Malcolm Boyden’s mid-morning BBC Radio Oxford show.

“I think events like Stargazing Live are extremely important,” said John. “I and other colleagues at Oxford Brookes are passionate about engaging with the public, young and old, to talk about all the new things scientists are learning and their exciting breakthroughs in all kinds of areas.”

At Newbury, the public took part in a web chat with British-born astronaut Piers Sellars OBE and heard talks about the cosmos given by experts from the University of Oxford and Reading Astronomical Society.

“Who knows, we may have inspired the next generation of astronomers or astronauts who in years to come can push the boundaries of our knowledge even further,” added John.

John is one of Oxfordshire’s main science communicators. His alter ego Dr Molecule has a blog and is also on Twitter (@JohnRunions).

For more detail on the Stargazing Live event, please visit the BBC's microsite.