I have been fascinated by the night sky ever since I was a child.

I remember seeing Saturn through a telescope for the first time when I was about 10 years old, and the sight was nothing short of magical.

Seeing Saturn, rings and all, hovering against the velvet black sky ignited a fire in me that has been raging ever since.

Professor Brian Cox: Stargazing LIVE series two trailer

One of the key things that has helped maintain this passion is that no matter how much we learn about the Universe, there will always be more secrets to be uncovered.

It's been fantastic to be the astronomer on Stargazing LIVE, to work with Dara O'Briain and Brian Cox along with an incredible crew.

In the last series this involved me teaching astronomy to Jonathan Ross in his back garden, explaining how to take astronomical photographs and showing people the wonders of the night sky live on national TV.

It's been manic in the run up to this second series. Already we have two short film sequences complete, one which is a beginner's guide to telescopes and binoculars and another which is about light pollution.

Trying to get people to think about the amount of excess light they are using is one of the big themes of the series.

We want to demonstrate that even the smallest places create a heck of a lot of light, so I'm now on my way to Dulverton in Somerset to prepare for this year's biggest challenge - on the third night I will be attempting to get all the lights of the town simultaneously turned off live on air!

I'm pretty nervous about this as it relies entirely on people responding positively and agreeing to join in. It's all out of my hands when it comes to the show regardless of how much work we put in campaigning over the next two days.

Stargazing series one: Jonathan meets Jupiter

There are loads of other great things coming up in the new series too and we want you to get involved.

You can send in your pictures and questions to the team and we will try to answer as many as possible in the follow-on show Stargazing LIVE: Back To Earth which happens straight after Stargazing LIVE.

There are also hundreds of events up and down the country for you to go along to.

We've also got some great new graphics plus an updated star and moon guide and loads of other resources downloadable from the website to show you what you can look for in the skies over the UK during January so you can get out and stargaze for yourselves.

Last year's show was great, even my 'missed meteor moment' was hilarious but we have loads of bigger and better things planned for this year and frankly, I can't wait for the first show.

Mark Thompson is the astronomer on Stargazing LIVE.

Series two of Stargazing LIVE begins on Monday, 16 January at 8.30pm on BBC Two and BBC HD. For further programme times, please see the upcoming epsiodes page.

On Thursday, 19 January at 2pm, Professor Brian Cox will present a live, interactive lesson from Jodrell Bank in collaboration with The Big Bang Fair. All UK schools can join in on the BBC red button.

Comments made by writers on the BBC TV blog are their own opinions and not necessarily those of the BBC.

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  • Comment number 47. Posted by Mark Thompson

    on 30 Jan 2012 10:10

    Dear all
    Its been great to read your comments, I really appreciate you all taking the time to provide feedback. 
    The aim of the show was to inspire and encourage people who had a passing interest in the Universe to get outside and take a look. Really great to see your comment Hoggy1972 that you downloaded an application and got outside and started stargazing.  That's exactly what we wanted people to get people stargazing. 
    We were more ambitious than last year and had more time outside with me (yes I am the 'bloke in the field' microoddiefan) and had more backup plans if it had been cloudy.  Planning a live TV show about stargazing is actually pretty challenging when you think about the weather so had to have loads of material.  It would have been a pretty dull hour of TV if it was cloudy and we had none of the other stuff.  On that note Alisondj, yes I think you were right, there was a faint meteor over my shoulder during one of the links, fortunately it wasn't quite as obvious as last years.
    It was material like the interview with Capt Eugene Cernan which gave the show an extra dimension.  It was interesting to read your comment Faircloc and that you were disappointed when Dara cut Capt Cernan short but timing is everything in a live show and to ensure other segments got sufficient coverage the interview was bought to an end.  There was no disrespect intended I can assure you. 
    The extra 30 minutes show "Back to Earth" was an addition this year and was meant to be a light hearted discussion about the topics already covered.  I'm really pleased to hear you enjoyed the 'starcasts', they can be downloaded from the web at bbc.co.uk/stargazing.. 
    The best thing of all was that it was all live which means it gave the whole show an extra buzz, even if we did get the odd little piece wrong like the date on the pic, well done Tony Munnery for spotting that.  OOps..
    Anyway, thanks everyone again for your comments, really do appreciate them.


  • Comment number 46. Posted by SONICBOOMER

    on 26 Jan 2012 23:39

    I did not mind Dara, I can see why others might find his presence irritating, though it should be noted that he is genuinely interested in science, he has incorporated this subject into his comedy and he has presented events promoting science, including with Brian Cox, live, not on TV, with nothing to with the BBC.
    So maybe this is why he was on the programme, not through any desire to 'dumb down'.

    However a show like this, with contributions from places like South Africa and Houston, as well as other live broadcasts, is a bit of a juggling act.
    All shows of that type are.

    I do not think Gene Cernan was at all treated badly, but some just love to find something to moan about, save it for the Daily Mail letters page or their truly celeb obsessed on line presence.
    (And Dr Cox was entirely right with his flag explanation, anyone with a trace of knowledge and common sense knows this).

    I also enjoyed Brain's crack at ITV, just look at their content, for factual programmes, much less science.
    Mixing video game footage with a 1988 IRA attack if you please............

    An engaging and interesting 3 nights, I've long been interested in this subject (and like so many others, you can thank the BBC's 'Sky At Night' for that).
    Even so, if it is an unfamiliar subject I can see how it could create interest in others.

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  • Comment number 45. Posted by vicmildew

    on 26 Jan 2012 21:56

    BBC--Please please drop Dara from this show. His accent and speed of delivery mean that much of what he says is completely unintelligible and ruins what would be an excellent show otherwise.
    Having said that I agree with those who have asked for more GAZING at STARS!

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  • Comment number 44. Posted by SherlockFan1

    on 25 Jan 2012 13:15

    This comment was removed because it broke the house rules. Explain

  • Comment number 43. Posted by gasturbine59

    on 22 Jan 2012 20:53

    I Agree with Paula and I dont really like "artificial humour!", you're either interested in science or not?.........could be a great program

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  • Comment number 42. Posted by bepowell

    on 22 Jan 2012 19:14

    Thomas Baker is puzzling over the Moon's rotation.

    The reference frame that we use when talking about the Solar System uses the Sun and background stars as reference points. In this frame, the Moon is rotating once on its axis as it completes each orbit of Earth i.e. once per lunar month (about 28 days). This keeps the same side facing towards the Earth. If the Moon was not rotating then each side would be facing the Sun for about 6 Earth Months. A non-rotating Moon would have a Lunar day of one Earth year. We would have same phases of the Moon each month but over a year we would see the entire surface of the Moon. However, this does not happen we always seem the same side.

    When people refer to the "dark side of the Moon" this is a fallacy. What they mean is the far side of the Moon which we never see. The far side, like the near side, because of its rotation has light periods lasting 14 Earth days together with dark periods of 14 Earth days. If we add the light and dark times together we get 28 Earth days which is the length of one Lunar day. When the near side is on the opposite side of the Sun from the Earth it is fully lit i.e. full Moon. When the Moon is between us and the Sun only the far side is lit the visible side (near side) is unlit. So there is no visible Moon we call this New Moon.

    There is frame of reference with a non-rotating Moon but you have have to say that in this frame the Sun orbits the Earth!

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  • Comment number 41. Posted by thomasbaker

    on 22 Jan 2012 10:59

    To Darkskies. Many thanks for your help with my puzzle, but I am afraid I am still confused.
    Going back to my roundabout I could easily construct it so the centre and the structure going round it are separate pieces and if I looked down from the balcony I would certainly see the outer rotating about the centre but I would not see the individual poles rotating about their axies any more than I would see any other part of it rotating about itself. Indeed if I wanted to see the pole which I have made the axis of my moon rotate I would fit it with a motor. Unfortunately we would then see different faces of my moon from my central Earth.

    Looking down at our planet and its satelite from say the sun would I think show a similar situation to your view from the balcony with the moon rotating about the Earth's axis rather than its own.

    Help please.

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  • Comment number 40. Posted by Darkskies

    on 21 Jan 2012 18:07

    To thomasbaker. I think that if you use your roundabout model, but look down on it from say, a balcony, then as it rotates, all the poles indeed with go round with the main structure. As they are part of this structure and connected to it then yes the same 'face' of the pole will face towards the middle. But the Moon is not connected to the Earth and if the Moon did not rotate as it does, then we would see a slightly different face of the Moon each night.

    Try this example to see how it works.

    Take a small bite out of an apple (this will be a point of reference) and hold this apple from below at arms length. Now slowly rotate yourself and watch the apple, the same face of the apple point to you. But you are connected.

    Now get someone to hold the same apple by the stalk and ask them to move it around you. You will see the whole surface of the apple on each rotation. But if they twist the apple stalk by one rotation whilst they move it around you, the bite mark will remain in the same location.

    Hope that helps and I hope I got it right.

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  • Comment number 39. Posted by thomasbaker

    on 21 Jan 2012 12:39

    Does the moon really rotate about "its axis" in order to show the same face to the Earth? (Mondays Stargazing Live)
    Think of a fairground roundabout with a centre (the Earth) about which rotates a platform around the edge of which are non rotatable poles supporting the roof. If one of these poles was decorated with a model of the moon with the pole forming its axis this would always present the same face to the centre but could not rotate about that axis. Though it does rotate about the centre's axis. Help please?

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  • Comment number 38. Posted by reservoirmog

    on 21 Jan 2012 12:07

    I love this show and have little sympathy for the serious astronomers who knock it. Seems to me that they don't want their beloved subject to be opened up to the curious but less-informed. Encourage your new generation of geeks, you were ignorant once :)

    My suggestions for next year - more skies and less studio, keep Dara O'Briain and if you get a chance to interview a true legend PLEASE tape it in advance and show a full filmed interview. See you all next year, unless Brian Cox is fighting extradition charges for phone-stalking Captain Cernan... :)

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