Wonders of the universe revealed in Wigtown

Jupiter from its moon Europa. Image credit: NASA

Jupiter from its moon Europa. Image credit: NASA

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Take a giant leap into the wonders of the universe with one small step to Scotland’s National Booktown.

Some of the world’s leading scientists are making the journey to Wigtown in Dumfries and Galloway this month to celebrate women’s role in exploring the Earth and discovering the worlds beyond.

During the Big Bang Weekend, being held between the 27th and 29th January, Wigtown will help visitors explore places where no one has gone before with a series of talks and events.

Things blast off on Friday following a cheese and wine reception, with a talk on the extraordinary life of Mary Somerville by writer Stuart Kelly. Born in Jedburgh Mary was nominated jointly to be the first female member of the Royal Astronomical Society, her studies encompassing mathematics, astronomy, art and leading her to be described as the “Queen of Nineteenth Century Science.”

On Saturday there are talks from some 21st Century women scientists with NASA’s Dr Amy Hofmann speaking on Europa and Alien Oceans, astronomer and author Pippa Goldschmidt on Science Fiction and Galloway born Professor Maya Tolstoy, a deep sea explorer who featured in the film “Aliens of the Deep” and will be flying in from Columbia University to speak about her specialism, geophysics.

The weekend also includes the thinkScience Planetarium Show and guided walks to understand Galloway’s Dark Sky Park. The town’s booksellers are also taking part in the weekend with pop up events, workshops and by highlighting their star studded second hand collections of science books.

On Sunday morning there’s a further chance to meet with the weekend’s guests over breakfast. The Big Bang Weekend is the first of a series of lecture events being organised by Wigtown Festival Company’s Cultural Tourism Officer, Jessica Fox thanks to funding from the LEADER Rural Development fund. Young adults aged between 11 and 18 can access all lectures for free though those aged 14 and under must be accompanied by an adult. Tickets are now available from the Wigtown Festival Company at 11 North Main Street, Wigtown or online at www.wigtownbookfestival.com