Stargazing Live fun at Chapelfield shopping centre in Norwich

The infinite wonders of the cosmos were brought into sharp focus for shoppers in Norwich as they joined a national celebration of stargazing this weekend.

The event at Chaplfield Plain on Saturday was part of a programme of activities across the country to accompany the second series of the BBC Stargazing Live show, which begins tonight.

Visitors quizzed experts and enthusiasts during an afternoon of astronomical displays, telescope demonstrations, star charts and interactive science experiments.

Demonstrators included Hethersett High School's science department offering the chance to build a pocket rocket, while Space Rocks UK gave amateur astronomers an opportunity to handle a collection of meteorites and impactites which had fallen to earth.

The big screen outside the Chapelfield Shopping Centre showed live images from the Faulkes Telescope in Hawaii, allowing a view of the stars in the daytime.

David Balcombe, chairman of the Norwich Astronomical Society, said the event was a great way to get people interested in science, and the universe which surrounds them.

'There are so many different ways to get into astronomy, and you don't need to have a telescope to be an observer,' he said. 'The young children are particularly keen. They are interested in black holes and distant stars and galaxies and aliens.

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'We've been getting some interesting questions which have kept us on our toes – but we love that because we can give them a scientific answer. If people don't have an understanding of science, they cannot have an informed opinion about things like light pollution or global warming.'

Last year, the three-night Stargazing Live series drew four million TV viewers at its peak, with 2.4 million downloads of the accompanying star guide.

Madeleine Forrester, BBC learning project manager for the East, said: 'Last year we had a much higher rating for this subject area. It really appealed to people and we had more than two million downloads of the star guide, which is the highest the BBC has ever had for a learning resource. We know that the sales of telescopes shot up as well. We are building on that excitement again this year'

BBC Stargazing LIVE, presented by Dara O Briain and Prof Brian Cox will be broadcast on BBC Two for three consecutive nights, starting at 8.30pm tomorrow, (Monday 16 January)

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