Astronomical milestone recreated at university For BBC's Stargazing Live 2013

Legacy and learning are at the heart of this ambitious project. We want as many people as possible to get involved with stargazing during the live programme but also continue their enthusiasm for astronomy and the universe afterwards."Karen Gregory, Executive Producer, BBC Learning
Date: 06.12.2012     Last updated: 18.03.2014 at 17.55
Category: Learning
One of the world's most famous telescopes is being recreated on the University of Derby's grounds for the BBC's hugely popular programme Stargazing Live, which returns for a new series in the New Year.

Sir Frederick William Herschel (1738 to 1822) is considered one of the greats of astronomical history for, among other achievements, his discovery of the planet Uranus and its moons and for significantly advancing the design of the modern reflecting telescope.

One of Herschel's most famous telescopes – the 20ft-long rotating telescope - is currently being recreated in a ground-breaking project by the BBC at the University of Derby's Markeaton Street site.

The project is a collaboration between BBC Learning, Stargazing Live and the Open University. The telescope will be a working model of Herschel's and a permanent fixture at the University of Derby site, home to its Faculty of Arts, Design and Technology (ADT).

The Herschellian design uses just one primary mirror at the base of the tube and an eyepiece located at the top. Herschel used the telescope in the late 18th century to catalogue the night sky and was responsible for discovering an astonishing 2,500 stars and galaxies.

The project will explore Herschel's revolutionary techniques in telescope design, and will be used to attempt to observe the cosmos during the live Stargazing show hosted by Professor Brian Cox and Dara O Briain on BBC Two on 8, 9 and 10 January.

The University has supported the telescope's construction - part funding the base, which will hold the telescope - and students from its School of Technology are involved with the project, along with consultants from University College London.

Derby and District Astronomical Society members are also on board: they will be marking out the points of the compass for the telescope and calibrating it. Local school children will paint a mural around the structure with the help of Derby's Illustration degree students. It is also proposed that the University's Music and Textile students will be involved in activities around the project.

Karen Gregory, Executive Producer for BBC Learning, says: "Legacy and learning are at the heart of this ambitious project. We want as many people as possible to get involved with stargazing during the live programme but also continue their enthusiasm for astronomy and the universe afterwards."

Professor Huw Davies, Dean of the Faculty of ADT, says: "This is a very exciting and high-profile project for the University of Derby to be involved in. Engineering has a strong presence in Derby city and at the University, and I'm sure our students will get a real buzz out of something like this happening right on their doorstep. It is also good to see the way educational institutions, the community and business are coming together to recreate Herschel's innovative telescope."

Everyone is being encouraged to get involved in stargazing. The BBC and various partners are also hosting a number of stellar events across the UK designed to encourage everyone - from the complete beginner to the enthusiastic amateur - to make the most of the night sky.

The events, which will take place from Tuesday, 8 January, will bring together astronomical societies, museums and discovery centres, country parks and local authorities. They will include planetarium shows, rocket making, astrophotography, recreating constellations, analysing meteorites, the chance to view the stars via telescopes, as well as topical talks and discussions contributing to a national stargazing celebration.

Entry to all the events is free but many are ticketed. Tickets will be available until 11.55pm on Tuesday 11 December from the BBC Shows and Tours website at Tickets will be allocated by random draw.

To accompany the events, BBC Learning is producing a number of free resources, including a Star Guide and a special Star Party pack so that people can get involved by planning their own star party at home. They are available to download at

As well as the BBC-led partner events, hundreds of other organisations are planning events and activities up and down the country. To find an event near you visit the BBC's Things To Do website at

For further information about BBC Learning and the resources available please contact JC4/KW

For further information about the BBC TWO Stargazing 2013 programme please contact FD

For further press information about the University of Derby's involvement in the project, please contact Sean Kirby, University of Derby Press and PR Officer, on 01332 591891 or email:

Note to editors

BBC Learning plays a central part in meeting the BBC's purpose of promoting education and learning. Utilising the power of the BBC's big brands and key talent, the department puts learning right at the heart of the BBC and provides a variety of resources and learning opportunities for children, teachers, parents and adult learners. Working with partners and in local communities, BBC Learning aims to stimulate interests and encourage engagement through a variety of campaigns across all BBC genres.