Professor Brian Cox will welcome legendary Queen guitarist Brian May to Jodrell Bank when his astronomy programme returns to television sets this evening (January 8).
The BBC’s Stargazing LIVE – now in its third series - is presented by Manchester University’s Prof Cox and comedian Dara O’Briain.
It is broadcast live from the Observatory Control Room and the Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre, where students and fellows from the university conduct research into the solar system and beyond.
This year’s format will see the pair joined by celebrity guests each week, with May the first to appear.
The 65-year-old guitarist studied physics and mathematics at Imperial College London before going on to begin a PhD in astrophysics – which he abandoned when Queen became successful.
He completing his studies 30 years later in 2007, finally earning his doctorate.
May also co-authored Bang! – The Complete History of the Universe with the late Sir Patrick Moore and Chris Lintott. He has an asteroid named after him, 52665 Brianmay, on the recommendation of Sir Patrick.
After Sir Patrick died, it emerged that May had bought his house in West Sussex for £480,000 in 2008, so that the astronomer could stay in the home he had lived in for four decades. This year, Stargazing LIVE audiences will get the chance to learn more about the search for life on Mars, including an opportunity to explore an uncharted area of the Red Planet from the comfort of their own homes.
They will also be able to ask experts questions, which they can post on Twitter – with May already asking followers to post their queries. Dr Tim O’Brien, associate director at Jodrell Bank, said: “Dr May’s story is an unusual one – having been a successful rock star and coming back into astronomy later in his life.
“He’s a very active and interested astronomer – it will be great to have him here and we’re very much looking forward to meeting him. The programme is all about encouraging people to get involved and explore the wonders of the night sky.
“It’s as easy as walking out of your back door and looking up to the stars.
“We hope we can show people how to get more involved from there and how exciting astronomy is.”
Stargazing LIVE is on BBC Two tonight at 8pm.