• Izak Hannard

Salford astronomy expert says more education needed in schools

A Salford-born professor says “the lack of education on astronomy is shocking” prior to a huge meteor shower that will be visible across the region tonight.

The Geminids meteor shower will be visible across the sky tonight with up to 120 meteors per hour.

It is set to be the biggest meteor shower of the year and will take place only a day after Dr Allan Chapman arrived at Swinton Gateway last night to discuss why astronomy is important to the community and vital to understanding the universe.

Dr Allan Chapman who is 72-years-old is one of Britain’s most famous astronomers and historians who has been touring the UK.

He has been educating the public on the incredible history of astronomy and how it has impacted the way we understand the world today.

In a passionate speech he said “I feel that the lack of education in schools on astronomy is shocking.

“Getting out to schools, the media, astronomical society and getting the message about astronomy out there I feel is crucial in improving the education surrounding it.”

“I think astronomy is so important because it is about everything. I think meteors are fascinating because you only need to know where to look in the sky. There’s no need for a telescope, which is an amazing thing about it.”

Dr Allan Chapman also revealed plans for his first-ever fiction novel, after writing primarily in non-fiction. He went onto say “I was in Christchurch with my colleague last year and he knows that I am fascinated with ghost stories.

“So I decided to write a book set in the beautiful Christchurch with paranormal elements and I am really excited to be publishing it.”

The lecture featured a Q&A between the Salford Astronomy Society where one of the common topics of discussion was the need for education on astronomy. Dr Allan Chapman added that currently the lack of education is “shocking” in schools and feels that there needs to be a wider curriculum and is just as important as other topics in science.

Dr Allan Chapman said “getting out to schools, the media, astronomical society and getting the message about astronomy out there I feel is crucial in improving education surrounding it.”

Listen to the interview:

Dr Allan Chapman’s lecture was free for the community to attend when usually people would have to pay for his lectures across the country. Dr Allan Chapman was born in Salford and in light of this, the talk which is held yearly at Swinton Gateway was free of charge. Anyone with a keen eye for space or an interest in the universe could attend and learn more about why astronomy is important.

Dr Allan Chapman ahead of tonight’s meteor shower said “astronomy is an important and fundamental part of society and is the reason why we exist today.

“Many people at school do chemistry, biology and physics, but often not much astronomy. It tells us about where we are in the universe. Let’s face it. Astronomy lies at the heart of everything and it’s so crucial that young people understand this.”

He went on to say that people in Salford can get more involved in astronomy by attending societies, going to the media and organising talks.

The weather in Salford on Thursday evening is expected to be partly cloudy with periodic clear skies, meaning you may be lucky to spot the falling stars. If you miss it on Thursday, you’ll still be able to view it on Friday night with periodic clear skies. The best hours to watch the meteor shower is between midnight and 2 am, with a better chance of spotting them in an area away from high levels of light.