*** Brian the Astronomer ***
"I rushed out and bought all you books, and the music to..."

Sky At Night Full Transcript and Screenshots


ANNOUNCER: "Rock input now on BBC1 with Patrick Moore and The Sky At Night."

Opening music...

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Recorded space tansmission:

"...Contact light. Okay engine stopped. We copy you down Eagle.
Houston uh, Tranquillity base here, the Eagle has landed."

PATRICK MOORE: 30 years ago in July 1969 Apollo 11 landed on the Moon and first Neil Armstrong, then Buz Aldrin stepped out onto the bleak rocks of the Sea of Tranquillity.

More of transmission:

"It's one small step for man. One giant leap for mankind."

Good evening. I remember that very well. I was in Television Studio 7 doing a commentary as they actually stepped out onto the Moon, and that was a great moment.

And you know, pictures from Apollo are still being released. Here's one from Apollo 16 taken from a thousand miles in 1972 and here another from Apollo 11 showing part of the lunar surface, about the size of Switzerland. Can you remember Hercule Albeam showing a container of lunar soil? And by the way, if you want to see these pictures, they're on show at the Hayward Gallery, Southbank.

Well today 30 years later, the Moon's in the news again for a totally different reason. This time the Moon's going to act as a screen, blot out the Sun and give us the first English total solar eclipse since 1927 and believe me it'll be a great sight. And to join me I would like to welcome Brian May.

Now Brian's fame as a musician is so great one tends to forget he's also a highly qualified research astronomer. Welcome to The Sky At Night, Brian.

BRIAN: Thank you very much Patrick. It's a great privilege to be here.

PATRICK: It's a lifelong hobby, isn't it?

BRIAN: Absolutely - a life long passion, for which I think you're to blame - cos I think I remember seeing the Sky At Night from about 10 years old when I was a kid and I was completely enraptured by your stories of the stars and I rushed out and bought all your books and um, the music too as a matter of fact, (laughs) and I guess I pursued music and astronomy more or less equally. I more or less still do in a way. I still have a passion, er although I am an amateur astronomer these days.

PATRICK: And of course, your main research was in zodiacal dust.

BRIAN: It was - I did a thesis on dust in the solar system and you have an excellent picture of this I know, er, which is roughly what the zodiacal dust looks like after sunset. It's very hard to see, isn't it in fact.

PATRICK: Well I took that one from La Palma. You don't really often see it well here, but it's a nice sight.

BRIAN: Yes. You need to be in the tropics really. I was in Tenerife not too far away, doing my observations, um, so if you were in space you'd see that at total eclipse time, wouldn't you?

PATRICK: Well, dust lit up by the Sun, but now this time the Moon's going to act as a screen and blot the sun out and you've been to quite a few eclipses, haven't you?

BRIAN: I have indeed, yes. I've attempted five and seen four I would say, er the one that escaped being Mongolia. We'd drove (laughs) drove into a snow storm and saw very little actually, but um it was still spectacular in its own way.

PATRICK: I've been similar, I missed one in Finland. What was your first?

BRIAN: First time er, I went really on an impulse to Baha California, in Mexico, and in 1991 saw a really fantastic eclipse and I think I was hooked from that point. Um - I actually attempted pictures at the same time and I think I had beginner's luck cos I got a couple of quite reasonable pictures.

PATRICK: That's a beauty.

BRIAN: The um, the diamond ring effect there, and um, you can see a little prominence there - very beautiful and of course the solar corona, which was probably something similar to what we might expect in August.

PATRICK: Just about, I would think.