Bringing the Universe down to Earth

Image of red galaxy formation on a black background

Astrophysicists at LJMU are using innovative ways to help explain major workings of the Universe. After recently securing a Gold Award in the Fresh Gardens category and Best in Class at the 2015 RHS Chelsea Flower Show for a design exploring ‘Dark Matter’, they are now set to deliver a £100k Astronomy STEMM outreach project with the Workers Education Association (WEA).

Sponsored by the Science and Technology Facilities Council, who fund UK involvement in Dark Matter research as well as the UK team at the Large Hadron Collider in CERN, the garden aimed to excite and inspire everyone but particularly school children in the study of science through astronomy. Similarly, the work on the WEA project, titled ‘Open Your Eyes, Look Up To The Sky’ will use astronomy to enthuse hard-to-reach and disadvantaged groups about the study of STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Medicine and Mathematics) subjects.

The Astrophysics Research Institute (ARI) has a long history of public engagement through the LJMU’s National Schools’ Observatory (NSO). The NSO is a major educational website, established by the University, to allow schools to make their own observations alongside professional astronomers with the world's largest fully-robotic telescope - the Liverpool Telescope, operating at the international observatory site atop a mountain in the Canary Islands.

ARI’s Professor Andy Newsam and Professor Mike Bode, will use some of the resources developed for the National Schools’ Observatory and Distance Learning programmes. Professor Bode has also been elected to serve a three year term on the Council of the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS).

The project has been selected as one of six from an original 92 submissions to be funded as part of the Royal Astronomical Society’s ‘RAS 200: Sky & Earth’ programme to help celebrate the Society’s 200th anniversary in 2020 and will be delivered over three years.

The six outreach projects selected for funding include regional and national programmes, working with disadvantaged young people and adults who see science as something other people do, using arts and humanities as well as tailored learning for people struggling with everyday life. All six awards address the fundamental goals of RAS 200: reaching out in new ways to new audiences of people in astronomy, space and planetary sciences and geophysics.

Professor Andy Newsam, Director of LJMU’s National Schools’ Observatory explains:

“Astronomy has a fascination unmatched by any other science, and at LJMU we have a number of projects that use that appeal to enhance the education of a diverse range of subjects. Working with the WEA we can reach an even wider audience.”

Further information and press coverage is also available on the National Schools' Observatory website.

Coverage for the ARI garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show included:

Liverpool Echo
The Telegraph
BBC News
The Guardian


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