View Full Version : The Sky at Night

2005-Nov-09, 11:51 AM
Sorry if someone has done this before, but I think its time for a thread devoted to the Sky at Night, a programme on the BBC, hosted by the legendary Sir Patrick Moore.

The Sky at Night for the unninitiated (and this would include a large amount of the visitors to this forum) has been running in the UK for over 45 years. It has been hosted each month (apart from once) by Sir Patrick Moore, an 82 year old who has been responsible for my interest in astronomy and probably about 90% of UK astronomers' interest in the subject! Indeed he is in the Guinness Book of Records as the longest running TV presenter of the same programme in the world, a feat unlikely to ever be surpassed.

If you'd like to find out more about the Sky at Night, visit:

If you have realplayer software and live in the UK, then you can definitely watch it online. I'm not sure if this works outside the UK, in fact your feedback would be greatly appreciated.

This months episode featured the annular eclipse recently as well as a detailed look at Mars at its recent opposition. It was of course marvellous!

2005-Nov-10, 11:03 AM
Next months programme is about the luminosity of Stars. We've got some good threads on this subject on the Bautforum, so I'll be swotting up like the anorak I am!

captain swoop
2005-Nov-10, 11:12 AM
ALso one of his good mates is Dr Brian May. well known Astronomer and guitarist

2005-Nov-10, 11:16 AM
He certainly is! Brian May is a very knowledgable astronomer. Its always fun seing him pop up on the programme, offering insightful opinions about eclipses and the like!

2005-Nov-10, 11:23 AM
I think the show has now been running for 48 years.
I stumbled onto the realplayer editions of the show (not often infront of the TV when the show is on) and found them to be a great idea. The ones online range back about 2 years or so. I even saw on of my past lecturers on there on a show about star formation.

Dont forget there is now the magazine too. A decent enough read and you get (i think) the previous months episode on the cover cd along with a variety of astronomy software and a monthly guide to whats in the sky narrated by the presenters and a star chart for the month with a list of things to look out for using various bits of equipment ranging from large telescopes to your eyeballs.

2005-Nov-10, 11:29 AM
Fantastic, I hadn't heard of the magazine. I'll be getting a subscription to that. Cheers Jumbo.

2005-Nov-10, 11:39 AM
Went to one of his lectures in the past, along with Dr Mason. Good entertainment, and enjoyed a few drinks at the bar with them after.

2005-Nov-10, 11:52 AM
Fantastic, I hadn't heard of the magazine. I'll be getting a subscription to that. Cheers Jumbo.
If you'd like to try it out before you get a subscription its available form smiths or tescos or places like that. I havent subscribed yet but will be doing so. I usually give a magazine a couple of issues trial to see if i have just picked it up on an especially good month. I've subscribed before and seen the quality of some magazines decrease. So far that hasnt been the case with the Sky at night one.

2005-Nov-10, 11:56 AM
I went to a lecture by Patrick Moore a few years back. I also got to meet the great man at Jodrell Bank observatory the last time Mars was at opposition in Summer 2003. That was a heck of an evening!

Roy Batty
2005-Nov-14, 10:45 PM
Interesting interview with the great man from earlier this year:
A few controversial opinions (he got the Ashes wrong;) as you'd expect, especially if you've seen him in the room 101 episode :)

Oh, & don't forget he plays the xylophone too, Firestarter anyone? ;) Great guy!

2005-Nov-15, 10:20 AM
I remember him being lampooned by the 2 Ronnies a few years ago two- fantastic!

Has anyone read any of his books? I've read his autobiography, and whilst I have little in common with him about politics, or the same opinions on foreign policy, I found it to be a really pleasant read. I'm amazed that after all these years he still doesn't have a contract with the BBC, but a 'gentleman's agreement'!

I also read his recent book on the Moon, the subject on which Sir Patrick is most brilliant. I wonder what he'd be replying to the moon hoaxer CT's?!!

Heid the Ba'
2005-Nov-15, 01:56 PM
An excellent show, I don't watch it often enough. I'll look for the magazine. Brian May can be a bit of a divvie though, remember his ramblings about the recent probe/comet collision? (sorry, name failure at the moment).

Hopefully when Sir Patrick finally keels over (in the far distant future) they will get someone like Heather Couper to present it.

2005-Nov-16, 11:20 AM
Like we mentioned Heid, you can watch it on the net. Link above!

2005-Nov-17, 01:15 PM
The two ronnies sketch is also on the bbc web site but its a reall poor quality real media file sadly.

Hopefully he will be able to go on presenting the show for a long time yet. Its amazing to think he has been presenting the show for nearly half a century!
Given the introduction of Chris Lintott to the show i wonder if he will take an even more prominent role in the shows future.

2005-Nov-21, 11:17 AM
I think so, Chris Lintott is a really good, enthusiastic astronomer.

I bought the magazine on the weekend. Really good. A fine CD rom with the September episode as well as some nice extras...

2005-Nov-21, 11:53 AM
I met Patrick Moore on the tube in London once. One of the main stations was closed due to flooding, and he and I both had to find alternative routes to our destinations, so we ended up frowning at the same tube map. I assisted him in his navigation.

I was very surprised to find that he is tall, as well as wide.

I've also met Heather Couper - a long time ago, at the London Planetarium.

2005-Nov-21, 12:06 PM
I saw Patrick a couple of years ago on his 80th birthday speaking tour - he came to the Victoria theatre in Halifax and gave a good question-and-answer session. Someone in the audience asked him what he thought of Apollo Hoax believers, and he replied simply "They need their head examining!"

Anyone in the UK remember the 'punk rock' episode of the Goodies back in the 1970s, when Patrick dressed in full punk regalia, safety pins and green spiky hair, and blew raspberries at the audience?

captain swoop
2005-Nov-21, 12:33 PM
He used to be the 'Games Master' on a kids TV show of the same name. It was a kind of Computer Game 'League' he was a 'computerised' head on the giant screen over the arena.

2005-Nov-21, 12:33 PM
Yes, I was surprised at his size too. Quite a tall chap, and an avid cricket fan. Never a bad thing!!

2005-Nov-30, 10:58 AM
New Sky at Night mag out 29th November. They also have an excellent website. I particularly like the fact that they give the last episode away on CD rom each month so that you can build up a library of them!

2005-Nov-30, 11:58 AM
Having the episode on cd is great especially as the bbc website offers the programmes in realvideo which isnt of the greatest resolution. Oh and the newer magazines have the programme in mpeg as well as quicktime so it plays on quite a few dvd players too.
I think ill pick this us in tesco at lunch time. Itll torture me at work till i can get home and read it though!

2005-Dec-01, 12:42 PM
Well, if its as good as last month's with the excellent feature on Mars, then you're in for a good read. I'll pick it up soon. The car's in for its MOT today, so I'm saving every penny I can until they break the bad news!

2005-Dec-01, 01:03 PM
Tescos were sold out of copies so i have to wait a bit as well. Probably actually restocking, replacing last months with this months edition. I certainly hope so as i hope they havent stopped selling it like they did with the last astronomy magazines they sold.

2005-Dec-01, 01:47 PM
I know, its a wind up when they've got about 6 different caravan magazines, a gazillion PC magazines, and one copy of 'astronomy now' with a torn cover!

2005-Dec-01, 02:27 PM
Throw in a dozen copies of trout today and some of those collect 6295 issues at 50 each and you can build a scale model of the taj mahal (1st match stick included in issue 1 for only 99p) magazines and we seem to be getting there.
I know ill get round to subscribing one day!
(to sky at night not the trout one!)

2005-Dec-01, 02:51 PM
Seing as though the Sky at Night has been around for ages, its nice to see its profile rising again. It seems that with it being shown on BBC4 as well as the programme being extended from a paltry 20 minutes that it is as relevant as ever. I think that the way Patrick Moore can still explain a subject and ask scientists a good balance of obvious and more difficult questions will mean that we're still watching it for many years.

2005-Dec-01, 03:15 PM
I think that the way Patrick Moore can still explain a subject and ask scientists a good balance of obvious and more difficult questions will mean that we're still watching it for many years.
Thats a real strength of the show. The more obvious question mean that total newcomers to the subject have interesting material that not too complicated. Whilst htose who know a bit more get information from the more complex questions. Everyone comes away having heard something relevant usually.

I believe its now filmed at Sir Patricks home, where ever it is filmed now though the backdrop gives me the feeling of sitting in on a conversation between astronomers rather than being talked at by a documentary crew.

2005-Dec-01, 03:20 PM
I think it'd be a great idea to as well as giving last month's episode away also give archive episodes away with the magazine too. I remember there being a particularly brilliant comet Halle Bopp episode, I'd love to see that again!

2005-Dec-01, 03:26 PM
One of the recent issues had two classic episodes. (Havent got round to watching them yet) the 1st was the 50th episode where an attempt is made to observe saturn live on the show IIRC this is the clouded over incident. The second episode is where a group of 'eccentrics' are interviewed including one where a man who claims he can speak venusian is interviewed. Not classic astronomy may be but im betting theyll be hard to forget!

The website seems to be the main source for past episodes but that only goes back about 2 years rather than nearly 50. (some earlier ones may have been erased but im sure there are plenty sat in the archives of the beeb)

2005-Dec-01, 04:44 PM
With any luck we'll get to see some of the older ones soon then. That is good news!

2005-Dec-02, 02:23 PM
Looks like ill be getting the magazine elsewhere now. Still no copies in Tescos or local shops. Perhaps there are some in town.In tescos there appeared to be a magazine about property development and one called Total Carp in its place. IM hoping they just havent had any delivered yet or something.

2005-Dec-02, 03:00 PM
...and one called Total Carp in its place.
I hope that's not a misprint.

2005-Dec-02, 03:06 PM
It was infact a magazine about carp fishing though i have to confess i did a double take after misreading its title!

Roy Batty
2005-Dec-02, 06:41 PM
It was infact a magazine about carp fishing though i have to confess i did a double take after misreading its title!

As long as you wern't being Coy :shifty:

2005-Dec-03, 09:40 PM
I had a look in Tesco, South Wales earlier, and none in as yet. I'll keep you posted when I finally track one down!

2005-Dec-06, 04:48 PM
This month's episode is on BBC4 tonight and is celebrating 10 years of the SOHO space craft which has given us a lot of valuable information not just on the Sun, but how all stars behave. I understand that it will also be repeated on BBC2 this Saturday at about 12.30 pm.

I have yet to find this month's magazine. Anyone had any joy yet?

2005-Dec-06, 05:18 PM
I caught the soho program on sunday. Well some of it anyway. I hear the BBC4 version is extended though so i may tune in again.
As for the magazine: Tescos didnt have it on Friday and it wasnt in Smiths today again or even any of the shops on saturday when i took a little trip to Caerphilly. If i spot any ill post where it was asap.

2005-Dec-07, 10:17 AM
Much appreciated Jumbo. I've tried Western Avenue Tesco, Llantrisant Tesco, and Cardiff Bay Asda, but to no avail, so anywhere within the locality would be good!

Gas Giant
2005-Dec-07, 03:51 PM
I caught the soho program on sunday. Well some of it anyway. I hear the BBC4 version is extended though so i may tune in again.
The BBC4 version is 30 minutes, as opposed to 20. Additional things in the episode was a section on brown dwarfs and supernovae. There were possibly other things, but I was a bit sleepy at the time (roll on my Sky+ installation).

2005-Dec-09, 07:08 PM
I subscribed to the magazine when the Radio Times had a special offer, 1 an issue I think. But the people who sent out the e-mail newsletter I received today really should know better:
This week sees the launch of the BBC Sky at Night forum. Register today and join the chatroom to discuss any astro related issues. With an Astro Talk and an Astro Observations section, you can discuss your latest sitings with fellow-minded astronomeurs. You can also buy and sell astrological equipment and there's even a photo gallery for you to show off your best astrological shots.
BTW did anyone watching the Sky at Night on BBC4 hear the announcer talk about the variety of stars in the solar system? She did it twice - I fell asleep after it finished and woke up to see the repeat in the middle of the night!

Didn't stop me enjoying the programme though.

2005-Dec-12, 11:14 AM
I'm on a mission to find the December issue later today. Wish me luck!

2005-Dec-12, 11:34 PM
I'm on a mission to find the December issue later today. Wish me luck!
Any luck?
I was in a couple of tescos today and no sign nor in WH Smiths. Its space appeared to be occupied by catering and hotelier magazine The december issue appears to have fallen into a black hole!

2005-Dec-16, 04:49 PM
is night vision goggle is useful in the space, jake.
the link is best one.
sky at night is beautiful one. if there were not stars in the black sky, then it was bore one, but there are plenty of stars dazzling in the sky that's a fine look. * stars are very cute, big, small, granuels like small, really at night the sky is VERY MUCH AMAZING to our eyes, Jake.

2006-Jan-05, 01:06 PM
Apologies for the thread necromancy....
I never did find the december issue but Tescos have masses of copies of the January one so parhaps total carp hasnt replaced it!
I think ill be subscribing though to ensure i can actually get the magazine from now on.

2006-Jan-05, 01:09 PM
Really? I looked everywhere for Decembers, and gave up. I'll look for the January one right away!

Cheers Jumbo!!

Roy Batty
2006-Jan-05, 01:55 PM
My girlfriend managed to pick me up December's from WH.Smiths in Waterloo station.. excellent! :) Think I will subscribe too since it's 28% cheaper yearly (or 25% + 3 free issues if paying via quarterly direct debit).

2006-Jan-05, 03:03 PM
Anyway, back to the TV show, anyone seen January's yet?

Roy Batty
2006-Jan-05, 05:48 PM
Not yet properly, hope to catch the full length repeat tomorrow (20:30 BBC4).

2006-Feb-07, 12:09 PM
Just saw the latest SAN on BBC 4- an hour long special on the telescopes of Hawaii. Absolutely fabulous! They've been using them to look at Brown Dwarves, Extra Solar Planets, and the infra red super cooled telescopes which can see through the dust are wonderful!

This programme is getting better the longer it goes on. The February issue of the Magazine is well worth a look too as it features a 1970 interview with Clive (sorry for the spelling) Tombagh the Pluto discoverer too. Very timely indeed!

2006-Feb-12, 11:12 AM
I'm sorry to have to say it, but I think they should bury TSAN when they bury Sir Patrick - if that ever happens. It just couldn't be the same without him.

What a polymath! Musician, writer of operas and novels as well as respected researcher - you don't get to be a Fellow of the Royal Society for presenting a TV show. Completely unselfconcious and unselfimportant. I wrote to the prog. once asking about some starfield photos he had shown, and got a personal letter back, clearly from his own hands as the letters were all up and down from his old mechanical typewriter. A world treasure.