One giant leap to Wigtown for Big Bang Festival

Of the Wigtown space festival, Professors Nigel Henbest and Heather Coupar
Of the Wigtown space festival, Professors Nigel Henbest and Heather Coupar

It’s not so much a case of “to infinity and beyond” as “to Wigtown and the stars” for the third annual Big Bang Festival there next month.

Half a century since Neil Armstrong set foot on the Moon and a decade after Galloway set up Britain’s first Dark Sky Park, Big Bang explores humanity’s fascination with space.

The weekend of events in Wigtown from 8 to 10 March brings together broadcasters, space scientists, writers, storytellers and others for a series of talks and activities – including a chance to stare at the stars from one of the planet’s darkest landscapes.

Among the guests are professors Heather Couper CBE and future astronaut Nigel Henbest – who is booked on a Virgin spaceflight – known to millions for their TV and radio shows as well as their books about astronomy.

The pair will look at how, from at least 40,000 years ago to the present day, humans have probed the beauty and the mysteries of the night sky.

They will also discuss the remarkable, and often maverick, scientists who have helped us discover the secrets of space.

Professor Couper, whose dad was a Dundonian RAF pilot and has been a favourite ‘telly scientist’ for decades, said: “It’s part of our psyche, we have a fascination with the stars that’s absolutely primal – looking at the night sky is like staring at an ever changing and utterly beautiful landscape.

“All round the world there are ancient monuments aligned to astronomical events, like the Callanish Stones and Maeshowe in Scotland.”

And we are still trying to understand what they were for – the latest evidence for Stonehenge suggests it was related to the midwinter sunset rather than the midsummer sunrise.”

For more information and how to obtain tickets for the Festival, please go to www.wigtownbookfestival.com.