Lyrid Meteor Shower over Portsmouth

A week of free, online astronomy events from Monday 25 to Sunday 31 January

13 January 2021

8 min read

Join us this January for our first ever virtual Pompey Stargazing event!

Covid-19 means we can’t hold events in-person in 2021. Instead, we invite you to join us online for a series of talks, events and activities for members of the public.

You can put your questions to expert cosmologists from the Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation at the University of Portsmouth, learn about exciting new telescopes that will soon launch into space, and find out what you can see in the night sky.

The Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation has hosted an annual public 'Stargazing at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard' event since 2013, in collaboration with the National Museum of the Royal Navy. We hope to be back with an in-person event in 2022 but look forward to seeing you online this year instead!

Use the hashtag #PompeyStargazing if you're taking part, telling your friends or sharing your stargazing observations on social media.

Ticketed events

A new era of astronomy

Monday 25 January, 6.00pm

This panel discussion will feature three academics from the Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation who will share their thoughts about the scientific possibilities of the new generation of space telescopes that are due to come online over the next few years.

Recommended for ages 14+

Book now

Ask us about astronomy and the cosmos!

Tuesday 26 January, 5.00pm

Put your questions about all things astronomical and cosmological to researchers from the Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation.

Recommended for ages 12+

Book now

Virtual stargazing for schools

Wednesday 27 January, 10.00am-2.45pm

A programme of interactive astronomy sessions for schools and home-schoolers.

The scale of the solar system


Key stage 2 (ages 7-11)

Galaxy Zoo


Key stage 3 (ages 11-14)

Black hole hunter


Key stage 4 (ages 14-16)

Cosmic inflation: Physics at the edge of the Universe

Thursday 28 January, 6.00pm

A public talk by Professor David Wands about our current understanding of the early universe and the physics that shaped it.

Recommended for ages 16+

Book now

Virtual stargazing family fun day

Saturday 30 January

Curious about our place in the Universe? Want to know what rainbows have to do with astronomy research? Got a question about space that you've always wanted to ask an astronomer? Join our Virtual Stargazing Family Fun Day from the comfort of your own home.

Our Cosmic Address


Recommended age 7+

Rainbow Astronomy


Recommended age 11+

Virtual Planetarium Show


Recommended age 5+

Ask us about astronomy!


Recommended age 7+

Colliding black holes and neutron stars: Detecting gravitational waves

Sunday 31 January, 6pm

A public talk by Dr Laura Nuttall about gravitational waves - tiny ripples in space-time from cataclysmic cosmic sources.

Recommended for ages 16+

Book now

Other activities

Social Media

Keep an eye on the Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation Facebook and Twitter pages throughout the week where we'll be on-hand with some bonus content and answers to your stargazing questions.

Night Sky Audio Tour

As we can’t be together in person to show you the night sky, we've created an audio tour that you can download instead.

Take it outside and follow along as Dr Jen Gupta from the Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation explores what we'll be able to see from Portsmouth at 7.30pm on a clear evening during the last week of January.

Afterwards, join us on the ICG Facebook page from 8pm where we’ll try to answer any questions you have about what you’ve just seen.

Stream the audio guide or download it to a phone, tablet or music player before you head outside.

External Audio

Audio guide transcript:

Hello and welcome to this audio tour of the night sky brought to you by the Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation at the University of Portsmouth, as part of our Virtual Pompey Stargazing event.

My name is Dr Jen Gupta and I’m an astronomer working at the ICG. Over the next 20 minutes or so, I’ll be helping you to find your way around the night sky and explaining a bit more about what you’re seeing.

This audio tour has been recorded assuming that you’re in Portsmouth in the UK and it’s 7.30 in the evening in the last week of January 2021. That’s the 25–31 January. The view across the UK should be pretty similar to what we see in Portsmouth, but if you’re in another part of the world, or if you’re outside at a different date or time, then your view of the night sky might not match up to what’s in this guide!

OK. Just a few more things before we head outside. The first is to make sure that you wrap up warm - I can definitely recommend layering up if you’re going to do some stargazing during the winter in the UK! The other thing is to stay safe - particularly at the moment with England in lockdown we’d definitely recommend that you stick to stargazing at home, whether that’s in your garden, from your front step, or even just out of the window! And don’t forget that it’s absolutely not cheating to use an app or a star chart to help you find your way around the night sky. I often use an app called Stellarium to check what I’m looking at. But if you are going to use your phone, it’s best to see if there’s a night mode you can use either on your phone or in the app itself so it doesn’t affect your night vision as much.  

Right. Let’s go! Once you’re in position, take a few minutes to just look up and around the night sky. Let your eyes adjust to the darkness. It actually takes about 20 minutes for your eyes to fully adapt to seeing in the dark so be patient! What can you see? Hopefully some stars, probably some clouds if you’re in the UK! There’s a planet that’s

Tactile Universe sessions for vision impaired people

The Tactile Universe project is offering a small number of virtual astronomy workshops for vision impaired individuals.

Places are limited, so for more information, and to register your interest, please email the Tactile Universe project lead, Dr Nic Bonne, at

For more information about the project, visit the Tactile Universe website.

To participate in these workshops, we'll need to send you some of our tactile resources so places are limited to UK residents.

National Museum of the Royal Navy

While we're unable to team up in-person with the National Museum of the Royal Navy for this year's Stargazing event, they've produced some educational resources themed around the Royal Navy and Navigation for you to explore instead.

Download a resource pack from the TES website.

Stargazing resources

You'll hear us talk about various websites and resources during the week.

Here are a few useful links for you to investigate further: