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The programme came about as the result of a suggestion from the station’s Programme Controller – Graham Laycock. As a member of GAS’s Outreach Team I got involved in the organisation of our regular flagship outreach event at Newlands Corner, near Guildford. The last such event was on Saturday 1st April and before that I contacted local media seeking publicity for the stargazing event. This included Brooklands Radio, a local internet station, and I was invited in to the studio for a 10 minute on air chat about astronomy in general and Newlands Corner in particular. The chat seemingly went well, was placed as a podcast on their website – it was subsequently downloaded some 600 times! It’s till available at the time of writing at http://www.brooklandsradio.co.uk/podcasts/GuildfordAstronomical2017-03-29.mp3 As a result Graham suggested I do a regular monthly slot, the first of which has now gone out.
The 30 minute programme is called Stars Over Surrey and is broadcast on the last Friday of the month at 7.30 pm and then repeated the following Monday at 11.00 pm. After that it gets placed as a podcast on their website. The general format is that I work in the studio with Dave Jemitus, one of the station’s regular presenters. With David I cover what’s interested me in terms of astronomical and spaceflight news in the previous month, then my constellation of the month, finishing off with what’s to be seen in the night sky and of local interest for the coming month. The programme is aimed at the general listener, so I try to keep items to a basic level – but even then it’s easy to slip up; for example in April’s programme I said Messier worked in the 1850s rather than 1750s! Aaargh!
In the first programme I also reported on how well the Newlands Corner stargazing session had gone, and told listeners about the Equinox Star Party from which I’d just returned. Surrey’s five astro societies got a mention together with their May meetings – Guildford, Walton, Farnham, Ewell & Croydon. I’ve already contacted these societies to ask them to send me notifications of any events they’d like promoted. The programme can be heard at http://www.brooklandsradio.co.uk/starsoversurrey.html where there is also a splendid image of The Rosette taken by GAS member Martin Baker, and also a monthly set of slides I produce for my Woking U3A Astronomy Group that I use as a prompt for my radio what’s up session. Hope you like it!
John Axtell FRAS