|Stargazing Live 2014 was a great start to the year|
There is something marvellous about watching a group of people talk about a subject enthusiastically. Even more so when it is live, unedited and only loosely held together by a schedule to fit in a television slot. With so many guests, presenters and short clips to cram in, all wanting to share their enthusiasm for their subject, it makes for a great spectacle.
Such an occasion on television rarely comes along. Normally live TV is so heavily controlled you get a sense that discussions are held as nothing more then time fillers until the next part of the broadcast. So when it all just clicks into place, you know you are watching TV gold.
The 3 day event that was Stargazing Live 2014 was one such event. And I felt privileged to be able to watch it all unfold before my very eyes.
I’ve always been fascinated by the starts, planets and universe ever since I was a kid. Even to this day I still have a Star Chart hanging up in my room with a map of all the stars in the northern and southern hemisphere, grabbing my attention whenever I walk past it. The idea that there are other planets and galaxies out there, with infinite possibilities of what they hold, is just such a draw to me. So when, I think it was 4 years ago, the first episodes of Stargazing where broadcast, I was so excited.
This year seems to have gone to different levels of greatness though. Seeing Professor Brian Cox and Dara O’Briain, a quirky combination of presenters that works so well, talking about the stars, universe and planets like excited kids, is just great to watch. You could tell from the way they spoke and the look in their eyes that they really enjoy their subject, and it definitely rubbed off on me watching it on TV.
There is a definite camaraderie between the two presents. When Dara was getting ridiculed for looking slightly weird in a Centrifuge G-Force simulator at NASA, he immediately showed a clip of Professor Cox in the same machine, declaring that he looks like an old woman from
Coronation Street. Hilarious to watch.
And the guests on each show…simply wow! NASA scientists, veteran and new astronauts, experts in various aspects of astronomy and mathematics, the list went on. Each one had a fascinating story to tell about their life studying or working in space. So powerful were their stories that the 3 day event would have been a success even if we just had them being interviewed for the entire duration of the shows.
It almost seemed cruel when Dara had to cut the guests short at times because they had to move on to the next part of the show, but that’s live TV for you. I would have loved to have seen some extended interviews on the website, just to give each guest the opportunity to tell their story in depth. Perhaps something to consider for Stargazing 2015?
Then we had the perfect balance of comedy mixed in with science. One moment Professor Cox is explaining the shape of the Milky Way in a filmed clip surrounded by candles strategically placed to show the shape of our galaxy. The next moment Dara is asking everyone to talk amongst themselves while he picks something up from the floor, or his head starts randomly appearing in the 3D planet sphere they are seen playing with regularly (I want one!).
Let’s not forget about the stunning footage of the Aurora Borealis. I’ve never had the opportunity to see this spectacle myself, but to see it live and changing shape was a delight to watch. A huge high 5 for bringing that footage to the viewers.
And on day 3 we had the biggest reveal of them all. A new galaxy had been discovered by a viewer during a challenge that had been set on the first day. The discovery was so amazing telescopes and observatories all around the world were pointing at this new galaxy to learn more about it. Watching it unfold on TV was breath-taking, I genuinely felt I was witnessing a moment of history. When they showed the discovery on TV I immediately shouted out “that’s incredible”.
It was a fitting end when they named the galaxy after the gentleman who found it. When they interviewed him live it became even more poignant when he said he had been an amateur star gazer for decades, and it was heart warming that he would have his name in history forever. It was a great way to end the show and the series for this year.
No pressure BBC, but I’m already looking forward to Stargazing 2015. You’ve set the standard for how live TV should be broadcast. Heck, even if it’s half as good as this year it will still be amazing to watch.
I applaud everyone who was involved in Stargazing 2014. In my opinion the best live TV show I’ve seen in a long time, if not ever.
Time to get my telescope out.