A planet in the foreground and two male scientists in the background

A journey Into the Cosmos

Astronomy and astrophysics

On Saturday 21 January, nearly 1,000 curious visitors came to the Department of Physics to take a trip into the cosmos. Through hands-on activities and talks, they got to explore strange new worlds and learn about our own galaxy and those billions of light years away.  

New name, new look

The Into the Cosmos event was similar in format to Stargazing Oxford, which first ran in 2011, but provided a greater opportunity to explore the vastness of the Universe through a curated experience. Visitors to the event followed a trail around the building to explore different stalls and areas of astronomy. The planetary research team had a large 3D printed model of the Moon on display and talked about their work with the Lunar Trailblazer mission. An infrared camera was used to show how the James Webb Space Telescope takes images in light that we can’t see with our eyes and the team involved showed the most recent images from the telescope that look deep into the cosmos. Visitors also got to see how a table-top cloud chamber can detect particles that are continuously streaming through us, undetected, from cosmic rays caused by black holes. The event included a planetarium and local amateur astronomer groups, Chipping Norton Amateur Astronomy Group and Abingdon Astronomical Society, were there to show members of the public how to observe the night sky at home.  

A tour through the Universe

Researcher Dr Mitchell Young coordinated the event: ‘Coordinating Into the Cosmos here at Oxford has been a remarkably rewarding experience. This is the first time we have been able to run an in-person event of this scale in three years, which gave us the chance to mix things up from the old Stargazing style. Into the Cosmos allowed us to paint a more cohesive picture of the Universe by showing how all our different fields of research relate to one another. Our volunteers and researchers did a wonderful job of guiding visitors on a tour through the Universe, starting right in our own Solar System and travelling all the way past the furthest galaxies, back to the Big Bang itself. We look forward to seeing so many inquisitive faces back again next year at Into the Cosmos.’
‘It was great to see so much interest in our research and I am always impressed with how much our younger visitors know about space!’ comments Dr Sian Tedaldi, Outreach Programmes Manager. ‘In the end we had more than 60 researchers, students and staff who came together to make the event a success. We only wish our building was bigger, so people didn’t need to queue to get in!’

Amazing to talk to physicists about the work they are doing and to understand the different fields of physics.

Exciting work, fascinating, fantastic people!