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Moon Night 2020


We recently celebrated Moon Night 2020 with three linked events from December 7-9th. Now in its 4th year, Moon Night normally takes place as a single event where we invite members of the public and school groups to our campus in Milton Keynes for an evening of Moon activities, lectures and planetarium shows. Covid restrictions meant that this was not possible in 2020 so we moved the event online, which gave us the chance to reach and speak to more of you than usual.

On Monday 7th December we started with the 'Fly me to the Moon' event, aimed at a family audience. We began with an introduction by Professor Mahesh Anand, followed by a showcasing of Google Moon by Dr Hannah Sargeant who virtually flew us to the lunar surface to reveal the incredible detail of various Apollo landing sites and other features such as craters and lava flows. This was followed by a live Q&A hosted by Public Engagement Officer Dr Natalie Starkey alongside Dr Hannah Sargeant and PhD students Tara Hayden, Lucy Gradwell and Ben Rider-Stokes who did a sterling job of answering questions about the Moon sent in by the public. You can catch-up with a recording of this event above and on our School of Physical Sciences YouTube Channel.

On Tuesday 8th December we welcomed Dr Jessica Barnes from the University of Arizona to speak about ‘The Moon's water: past, present and future perspectives’. This was a joint event with the Institute of Physics. Jessica completed her PhD studies within SPS and her first post-doc, so we were delighted to have her back to speak to us and learn about her continued research since she moved to the US. You can catch-up with her invited talk here on our YouTube channel.

On Wednesday 9th December we hosted the 6th Annual Colin Pillinger Memorial lecture with an invited talk by Dr Andy Spry, Senior Scientist at the SETI Institute. He spoke about 'Mars, and Other Places we Care About; Planetary Protection in the Commercial Spaceflight Era'. Dr Spry worked with Professor Pillinger on the Beagle 2 Mars spacecraft. He was responsible for the lander being built to meet all the rules for ensuring that it did not contaminate Mars with Earthly microbes and that any positive results indicating signs of life on Mars were due solely to Martian material. You can catch-up with his talk here, which is followed by a Q&A hosted by Professor Ian Wright.

The full Moon Night 2020 YouTube playlist can be found here.