10 Days of Science: British Science Week 2021

5th – 14th March is British Science Week and we’re celebrating with 10 days of Science!

From stargazing and climate science to the inspirational stories of Jodrell Bank, here are 10 great ways to celebrate with a new activity for every day…

Friday 5th March:

Check out coverage of NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi undertaking a 6.5-hour spacewalk outside the International Space Station today. See them in action here…

Above: NASA astronaut Christina Koch works while tethered near the Port 6 truss segment of the International Space Station to replace older hydrogen-nickel batteries with newer, more powerful lithium-ion batteries. Fellow NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan (out of frame) assisted Koch during the six-hour and 45-minute spacewalk. (Image credit: NASA) Above: In training – Astronaut Jeanette Epps, left, Soyuz MS-09 commander Sergey Prokopyev, centre, and European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst during space station flight training at Star City near Moscow. (Image credit: NASA)

Fancy becoming an astronaut? Find out what it takes here…..

Saturday 6th March:

See the smallest planet, Mercury and largest planet, Jupiter  very close together in the sky, an hour before dawn. Planets appear close every now and again as they move in their orbits – this is known as a ‘conjunction’ which for these two planets actually occurs on the morning of 5th March.

6th March is the best opportunity to spot Mercury, as this is the day it appears furthest from the Sun. Be especially careful when you’re trying to see it and don’t look for it once the Sun is up – looking directly at the Sun can seriously damage your eyes. Jupiter is the largest planet in the Solar System and will appear the brighter of the two.

Above: Looking South- South East at sunrise, between 6.20 am and 6.30 am (image from Stellarium)

Above: The planet Mercury. (Image credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington – NASA/JPL.) Above: The planet Jupiter (Image credit: NASA / JPL / Björn Jónsson) During a conjunction two planets look close together in the sky but in reality are millions of miles apart.

Sunday 7th March:

From the building of the iconic Lovell Telescope to the construction of our new First Light Pavilion; engineering innovation has always played a critical role in advancements on the Jodrell Bank site.

Find out more about the world of engineering in Kier Construction’s Virtual Interactive Built Environment…

Monday 8th March:

Today is International Women’s day so we’ve adapted a special quiz about the inspiring women of Jodrell Bank, first created for our biannnual Girls Night Out events.

Take part here and be in with a chance of winning a copy of Libby Jackson’s A Galaxy of Her Own!

You can also explore this fantastic citizen science project helping to transcribe the ground breaking work of early women astronomers.

Above: Women computers at the Harvard College Observatory, USA circa 1890. Image credit: Harvard College Observatory, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday 9th March:

The red planet Mars has always held a fascination for astronomers – easily visible when it’s in our night sky, we have sent numerous spacecraft to explore it and look for signs of life. Find out about the latest Mars missions by following the links below:

Above: Take a look for yourself if the sky is clear. Mars will be visible in the south western sky after 7.30pm (don’t forget, stars twinkle but planets don’t!)

Wednesday 10th March: 

Download your British science week activity pack and have a go at some fun and interesting activities.

Suitable for a variety of ages and all can be done from home.

Thursday 11th March:

Understanding how human activities can impact our environment has never been more important.

Try these climate science activities and learn what you can do to look after our planet.

Friday 12th March:

Find out how innovation at Jodrell Bank since the 1940s brought a new science – ‘radio astronomy’ –  into existence, revealing a universe that until then was completely invisible: A most extraordinary coincidence: The first experiment at Jodrell Bank – Jodrell Bank

The first experiments led to the building of telescopes that could see radio waves – energetic radiation from the same ‘family’ as visible light, but invisible to our eyes. Telescopes at Jodrell Bank continue to probe the invisible universe today.

Learn about the history of the Jodrell Bank Observatory from Professor of Astrophysics Tim O’Brien in this talk about how the telescopes of Jodrell Bank work and the things that they are used to study, from massive blackholes to flashing pulsars.

What can we learn from invisible light? Find out more in this article here: Science Concepts: Multiwavelength Astronomy – Jodrell Bank

Saturday 13th March:

Today’s new Moon means it’s a perfect time for stargazing as there’s less light to ruin your night vision. The Moon takes around 28 days to orbit the Earth and as it moves we see different amounts of its lit up side -the “phases” of the Moon. At new Moon we can’t see the Moon at all, its lit up side is facing away from us and it appears in the daytime sky. A moonless night means it’s easier to pick out the fainter stars so great for astronomers!

Above: The Moon as a thin crescent, just past ‘new’. Image credit: W.carter, CC BY-SA 4.0

Check out our monthly stargazing guide to find out what you can see this month and take a look at our Guide to Stargazing Apps to help get you started.

Sunday 14th March:

As British Science Week comes to a close for another year, we look forward to the beginning of spring (astronomically speaking!) on the Vernal Equinox which falls on 20th March this year. This is one of two days of the year when the lengths of day and night are equal. After the Spring Equinox and for the next six months, there will be more hours of daylight than darkness.

But why does the equinox happen? The Earth is tilted, and keeps the same tilt as it moves in its orbit around the Sun. We get an Equinox when the Earth is in a position where it is not tilted towards the Sun or away from it. This is what gives us days and nights of the same length.

You can explore more activities, stories and film in our Science Learning at Home online resource hub here…