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Astronomy in the Pub

Friday 22 February 2013

Horns Lodge Inn

South Chailey

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A big thank you to Richie Jarvis and his team for making this such a brilliant fun evening! What a fabulous idea. Who says you have to be interested in astronomy to get interested in astronomy?! I arrived at 6.00pm. Richie, his friends and colleagues from the East Sussex Astronomical Society had all the scopes set up in the garden behind the pub - and you could just tell that even though the skies were cloudy (I mean, how else could they be?!) it wasn't going to matter a hang! And it didn't because folk were checking out the scopes all evening.

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Inside the already packed pub, walls and beams were bedecked with astro images. A television screen at one end was all set for presentations, and so were those folk propping up the bar and filling the restaurant tables. At 7.00pm Richie was on the microphone and took everyone on a journey to the red planet, Mars, with a thrilling seven-minute video of NASA's Curiosity touchdown thrown in for good measure. It went down a treat and set a really exciting tone.

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Next up was little 'ol me with my presentation 'Size Matters'. I wasn't sure how to pitch, so just started with our seemingly small Star and took 'the' journey out to the realms of the known Universe. It was really fantastic to capture the unsuspecting, those who really had no clue whatsoever, who had just come along for a mildly interesting drink, or two, perhaps and found themselves discovering all kinds of things. I could tell by the gasps and laughter that they were with me throughout ... and isn't it brilliant to distract two-thirds of those in a pub on a Friday night, so much so that they stop drinking, gather around and just stay with you. So many that were previously uniniated were ... initiated! That sure does make you feel GREAT!

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Next up was Charlotte Clark, PhD student at Sussex University whom I was really fortunate to meet when we were both speakers with Richie at Brighton's swanky AMEX football stadium as part of the BBC-led Stargazing Live 2013 Event. It was terrific to have time with Charlotte again, to hear all about her fascinating work number-crunching galaxies, and then to have it explained fully in her presentation, accompanied by lots of fascinating current data/images from the Herschel Space Telescope and those of her time spent in Hawaii.

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Charlotte kept the audience in the palm of her hand and had a terrific sense of humour too!

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To finish, Rosemary Selmes from the East Sussex Astronomical Society gave an equally humorous and interesting presentation about her time spent working on the fabulous telescopes at the Herstmonceux Observatory. As a big fan of the place, it was amazing to appreciate just how it must have been to work on these amazing bits of kit ... something I would have loved to have done. Rosemary shared many personal experiences with both Charlotte and me afterwards - could have listened all night!

All in all, it was a fabulous evening and, judging from all the amazing feedback, was thoroughly enjoyed by all. Well done everyone, especially Richie, for making it so brilliant and THANK YOU for inviting me along to play a small part.

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