This week, the Cheltenham Science Festival returned for another year and we headed down to catch up on some of the latest astronomy news. We caught up with The Sky at Night co-presenter Chris Lintott as he talked about what he thought the world of astronomy would look like in 2024.


He predicts exoplanets will continue to make the headlines, with thousands of Earth-like planets being found.

Within the next ten years, telescopes will begin to analyse their atmospheres, a key step in the search for life.

“By 2024 we’ll be building the 30m Telescope,” said Chris. “This is what we really need to detect the atmosphere’s of other planets”.

Tune in to our July podcast, available 19 June, for our interview with Chris about what other advances we can look forward to.

Over in the BBC Science Zone, the Stargazing LIVE team talked about the technical challenges they faced last year trying to push the boundaries of televised astronomy.

Tim O’Brien, Associate Director of Jodrell Bank Observatory, told us about the monumentally successful citizen science campaign they ran last year to find gravitational lenses.

One of those found by viewers led to scientists ducking around cameras during the final show as they trained the Lovell Telescope on the discovery.

When asked what next year might have in store, all series producer Paul King had to say was, “We’re very excited about the eclipse.”

The team talked about the challenge of recording the aurora live on television, a world first.

To read more about how they achieved this feat, look for our exclusive feature from Stargazing LIVE cameraman, Mark Payne-Gill in the July issue of BBC Sky at Night Magazine, on sale 19 July.

If all that has sparked your interest then there are still plenty of astronomy events at the festival over the weekend.

On Saturday 7 June 14, from 2-3pm, Jim Al-Khalili, Jim Gates and Fay Dowker will be looking into the unanswered questions of the Universe and asking if we’ll ever have a ‘theory of everything’.

Later that evening at 7:30pm, The Sky at Night’s Maggie Aderin-Pocock, Chris Lintott and Pete Lawrence will be talking about the complexities of the Universe, what to observe in the night sky, as well as a few secrets from back stage at the BBC’s longest running astronomy series.

After dark, the Cotswold Astronomical Society will be hosting a stargazing event from 10pm, where you’ll be able to look at some of the sights in the night sky, and hear about the latest advancements in telescope technology.

For those with children, Sunday has several activities to keep them entertained.

The Adventures in Space show will entertain preschool children with its array of puppet aliens, while the Water Rockets Workshop will allow older children the chance to be rocket scientists for the day.


Adventures in Space will be performed at 9:45 and 11am, while the Water Rockets Workshop will run at 10am, noon and 3:30pm.