After a 4-month hiatus, The Sky at Night returned to our TV screens in April.


The long-running BBC astronomy show's last episode, The Multiverse of Mystery, aired in November 2022.

The production team and presenters Maggie Aderin-Pocock, Chris Lintott and Pete Lawrence then took a short break, but have returned for a new series.

When is The Sky at Night next on TV?

Maggie Aderin Pocock and Chris Lintott, presenters of the BBC Sky at Night programme.
The Sky at Night presenters Maggie Aderin-Pocock and Chris Lintott

The next episode of The Sky at Night will air on BBC Four on 12 June at 10pm and will look at the UK space industry.

The episode will be repeated on BBC Four on 15 June at 7pm.

Keep up to date via the BBC Four Sky at Night webpage.

The next episode of The Sky at Night

June 2023 episode

Credit: Skyrora
Credit: Skyrora

Episode title: Blast Off: A User's Guide to Space Travel

In the June 2023 episode of The Sky at Night, the team look into the science and engineering that’s helping the UK blast into space. The race is on to be the first company to successfully launch a rocket into orbit from British soil.

Chris visits Skyrora, a rocket company near Glasgow, to find out how rockets are built and why launches go wrong.

Maggie is given a preview of the new National Satellite Testing Facility. Until now British built satellites have been shipped abroad for final tests, but this is all about to change with the opening of the NSTF. Maggie sees how a satellite up to 7000kg will be vibrated to simulate launch conditions and steps inside the vacuum chamber where they will be exposed to extreme temperatures.

900 objects have been launched into space in the last year. Chris meets Professor Andy Lawrence to talk about the impact this is having on astronomy, and the images captured by telescopes such as Hubble.

Astronomers are currently keeping track of more than 23,000 pieces of space debris larger than 10cm, and this space junk poses a danger to new satellites as well as the astronauts on board the ISS. Radio astronomer Professor Danielle George visits Clearspace, a company hoping to solve the space junk problem with technology designed to capture debris in orbit.

Pete Lawrence reveals why June is a great month for solar observing, as well as the summer asterisms.

May 2023 episode

In the May 2023 episode, the Sky at Night team explores the threat of an asteroid impact on earth.

Around 2,300 asteroids have been identified as ‘potentially hazardous’ and scientists reckon about a million ‘near earth objects’ are yet to be accounted for.

Detecting these possible threats is now a priority for space scientists. And they’re developing methods of planetary defence that sound like the stuff of science fiction.

Maggie meets Professor Alan Fitzsimmons, expert in asteroid observation, to learn how the latest technology monitors near earth asteroids.

He explains which ones are a current concern, and why we missed the dangerous Chelyabinsk meteor – a 9000 ton fireball that exploded in the sky above Russia. Could it happen again?

The trail of the Chelyabinsk meteor across the sky. Photo by Elizaveta Becker/ullstein bild via Getty Images
The trail of the Chelyabinsk meteor across the sky. Photo by Elizaveta Becker/ullstein bild via Getty Images

Chris meets the Open University’s Professor Simon Green, who has been involved in NASA’s recent planetary defence mission ‘DART’.

In this mission a spacecraft was flown directly into an asteroid in a successful attempt to change its orbit – and the hope is that this could be repeated if an asteroid was identified as a real threat to earth. Simon demonstrates why smashing into an asteroid is even more complicated than it sounds.

More like this

Our inhouse stargazing expert Pete Lawrence explains how to get a rare sighting of Jupiter passing behind the moon – and why it is that we can see the moon in the daytime.

And exoplaneteer George Dransfield is at Royal Holloway University to meet planetary scientist Dr Queenie Chan.

Her recent analysis of the famous Winchcombe meteorite offers new evidence in support of asteroids bringing life – as well as destruction – to Earth.

April 2023 episode

Episode title: The Search for Alien Life

Synopsis: In the April 2023 episode of The Sky at Night, the team are exploring the search for extra-terrestrial life.

The search for life beyond Earth is a popular talking point at the moment, and scientists are able to use advanced engineering and technology to search for habitable conditions within our own Solar System, as well as looking for signs of life at exoplanets, which are planets orbiting stars beyond our Sun.

In the April episode, Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock visits Professor Mark Sephton at Imperial College London – a key scientist involved with the Perseverance Rover mission on Mars. The Perseverance sample return mission will bring material from the surface of the Red planet back to Earth - the first time such an endeavour has ever been attempted.

Prof Sephton will reveal how he and his colleagues use images sent back to Earth by the rover to decide the best places to capture the Martian samples. He'll demonstrate the technology he’ll use to analyse the samples of Martian rock for signs of life when they are brought back to Earth.

April sees the launch of the European Space Agency JUICE mission (Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer ). Professor Chris Lintott meets leading scientist Professor Michele Dougherty, who reveals why icy moons like Europa, Ganymede and Callisto are the key places to search for signs of life beyond Earth, and what this has to do with a game of squash.

And stargazing expert Pete Lawrence tells us how this month we can see Venus in a dramatic scene alongside the Hyades and Pleiades clusters.

Exoplanet expert George Dransfield is in Chile searching for earth-like planets outside our solar system. She reveals how potentially habitable exoplanets are identified, as she carries out essential telescope maintenance in the Atacama desert.

Back in the UK she meets Dr Sean McMahon – an astrobiologist at Edinburgh University investigating how reflected light could be used to actually search for life on exoplanets in the future.


Keep up to date with the show via The Sky at Night website on the BBC iPlayer and or discover more astronomy on the BBC.


Iain Todd BBC Sky at Night Magazine
Iain ToddScience journalist

Iain Todd is BBC Sky at Night Magazine's Content Editor. He fell in love with the night sky when he caught his first glimpse of Orion, aged 10.