Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Space Television United Kingdom Science Idle

BBC Astronomer Misses Meteor During Live Show 116

Posted by timothy
from the tivo-should-use-this-as-marketing dept.
krou writes "BBC astronomer Mark Thompson wasn't having a good night for the BBC's Stargazing Live show. He turned to the camera to complain of poor cloud visibility and a lack of activity in the sky ... only for a meteor to shoot past in the background. A rather sheepish Thompson said, 'I must admit I was oblivious to it. I think I'm probably the only person in the entire country who didn't see it.' (YouTube video of the original live footage)."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

BBC Astronomer Misses Meteor During Live Show

Comments Filter:
  • And this is news? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kokuyo (549451) on Friday January 07, 2011 @06:13AM (#34788998) Journal

    It wasn't even a stupid mistake on his part. This is like someone blinking just when someone else is taking a picture. Bad timing. Is this truly newsworthy?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I knew somebody who blinked in around 95% of photos. Even a fake count-down didn't throw them off.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 07, 2011 @06:34AM (#34789084)

        Wow! Ok, that IS news.

      • Re:And this is news? (Score:4, Informative)

        by sglow (465483) on Friday January 07, 2011 @09:24AM (#34789922)

        I knew somebody who blinked in around 95% of photos. Even a fake count-down didn't throw them off.

        Actually, that's fairly common. Most camera's use a short pre-flash to adjust their light levels when you press the shutter button. This is followed a few milliseconds later by the actual flash used to take the picture. Some people with sensitive eyes will blink at the pre-flash and end up with their eyes closed in most flash pictures.

        I used to have a Nikon DSLR camera that could be programmed to emit the pre-flash when a certain button was pressed. I'd hit the pre-flash button first, then take the actual picture (sans pre-flash) a few seconds later. Worked miracles for my wife who is a blinker.

        My new camera (a newer Nikon DSLR) doesn't see to make people blink, so either it doesn't use a pre-flash, or it's so fast that there's no time for people to react.

      • His name was Earl.
    • no, no. the news is the comment for the second video "this comment will randomly get lots of thumbs up.", which did get lots of thumbs up.

    • by MichaelSmith (789609) on Friday January 07, 2011 @07:08AM (#34789208) Homepage Journal

      I think its pretty amazing that it was possible to see a meteor in the UK.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I missed this show as I was out watching the meteors :(.

    • During meteor showers, which happen at predictable times every year, one can watch several meteors per minute. It's nothing out of the ordinary.

      It's almost like saying "astronomer overslept and missed sunrise" in an ordinary day.

      • by Kagura (843695)
        I went stargazing on New Year's Eve this year about 45 minutes outside of Seattle. We saw seven shooting stars. They're rather common.
    • What a coincidence, go figure! While you were posting your complaint ("waaaah!"), you totally missed out on the amusement of the story posted that was right there at the top of the page the whole time that the rest of us saw!

    • During ABC News' coverage of the Sept. 11 attacks, Peter Jennings was addressing the camera while a screen behind him carried a live image of the World Trade Center towers. Millions of people saw the first tower collapse while Jennings obliviously continued to talk. It as a good twenty seconds before a staff member got Jennings' attention and told him to look at the screen; at which point the collapse of the first tower was pretty much complete.
  • by Dr. Spork (142693) on Friday January 07, 2011 @06:18AM (#34789018)
    Does the BBC also have a "live watching paint dry" show?
    • by Kentari (1265084) on Friday January 07, 2011 @06:26AM (#34789042) Homepage
      It's better TV than Big Brother, *-ian Idol, ... and all the other junk... That said, I didn't watch either. I prefer the real deal.
    • by abigsmurf (919188)
      How dare they fulfil their public service obligations by showing a culturally diverse range of programming rather than endless reality shows and soaps!
      • by Dr. Spork (142693) on Friday January 07, 2011 @06:50AM (#34789150)
        Look, I love astronomy far more than the average person, but live stargazing - especially in cloudy England - is just about the dullest thing I can think of to bring out what's interesting in the field. As the ancients noted, the stars basically do nothing if you watch them live. They admired this "permanence" and its contrast with the wanderings of the planets and the transience of events on Earth. But that's exactly why there is no point is watching the stars "live"!
        • by Viol8 (599362)

          Except it wasn't just stargazing was it. It was essentially astronomy and cosmology with al fresco theme.

        • by Stooshie (993666) on Friday January 07, 2011 @08:24AM (#34789586) Journal
          Yeh, Flamsteed, Airy, Halley, Moore, Lassell, Hawking, Newton, Herschel, Cox, ... Britain is rubbish for astronomy and all that dull space stuff. Don't know why we British bother, to be honest!
          • by Idarubicin (579475) <allsquiet.hotmail@com> on Friday January 07, 2011 @01:37PM (#34793370) Journal

            Yeh, Flamsteed, Airy, Halley, Moore, Lassell, Hawking, Newton, Herschel, Cox, ... Britain is rubbish for astronomy and all that dull space stuff. Don't know why we British bother, to be honest!

            The reason why Newton invented calculus, optics, and the theory of gravitation was to have something to do on all those cloudy nights with rubbish observing. Flamsteed, meanwhile, spent his cloudy nights getting into political fights with Newton, and burning his books in front of the Royal Society during an authorship dispute. Halley headed for Saint Helena's clear skies and warm weather as soon as he graduated from Oxford; when he got back to England he mucked about with building diving bells to pass the time on his cloudy evenings.

            Hawking never did any observational astronomy, nor did Cox. Lassell built an observatory in Malta as soon as he could afford to. Herschel composed twenty-four symphonies during his overcast nights.

            If there's one conclusion to be drawn, it's that a British astronomer is a frustrated astronomer.

          • by geekoid (135745)

            I'm glad you finally realized that,now we can tackle the issue of you calling 'soccer', football~

        • by mykdavies (1369) on Friday January 07, 2011 @09:01AM (#34789754)

          Look, I love astronomy far more than the average person, but live stargazing - especially in cloudy England - is just about the dullest thing I can think of to bring out what's interesting in the field.

          I don't understand why think that the producers of this series of hour-long programmes wouldn't have the same concerns, and ensured that the programmes were not dull?

          I watched the first programme. It was presented by well-known physicist/presenter Brian Cox and comedian Dara O'Briain (who has a degree in theoretical physics and does a great routine debunking alternative medicine). They presented a live segment from Jodrell Bank which explained how radio telescopes work and Jodrell Bank's key role in the development of that field. They had a live report from the observatories in Hawaii, explaining what made that such a great location for telescopy, and also looking at how the islands were formed, reminding us about planetary formation and make-up. They took Jonathan Ross (a geeky presenter/celeb) out into a back-yard observatory, aimed the telescope and showed him Jupiter and its four visible moons). They explained the layout of the solar system, and the rotations of the planets, and pointed out that Uranus was currently in conjunction with Jupiter, and how to see it for yourself. They also answered questions that were being texted in by viewers (including a great one: "If there are so many billions of stars, how come it's so dark at night?").

          Admittedly not all of this needed to be done live, but doing so gave them a hook to build up a lot of publicity about the programme, and it meant that the energy of the programme was very high, with very appealing and natural approaches by the presenters.

        • Stargazing, over three nights when there was A partial Lunar Eclipse, A meteor shower, a guide to how to use a telescope and how to navigate around the sky, and reports and interviews from Mauna Kea ....

          One small part of this (very small due to the unsurprising cloudy conditions) was this astronomer stargazing live .... which was joked about by the presenters because they knew there was total cloud cover on two of the nights ...

        • by jovius (974690)
          Apparently the stars need producing to fulfill the needs of the modern audience. No wonder that no-one's watching because nothing happens for most of the time (or everything happens, but slooowly). We need more action and drama. The original problem stems from the position of the solar system in relation to the universe. For the sake of good entertainment either the Earth or the whole system should be moved to more exciting a place, maybe closer to the center of galaxy. BBC should be able to arrange that fo
      • by Sulphur (1548251)

        How dare they fulfil their public service obligations by showing a culturally diverse range of programming rather than endless reality shows and soaps!

        Is it the programming language?

    • by hcpxvi (773888)
      I am a fan of the BBC, astronomy, Brian Cox and Dara O'Briean [2]. But this show was pretty dull. It had a few interesting things but for the most part the presenters looked faintly embarrassed to be there and with good reason.

      [2] Not of Gaelic spelling rules, though.
      • yup, I agree with this. It was filled with too much padding (did we really need a presenter "live" in Hawaii?). Brian Cox also looked a wee bit uncomfortable with the live presenter job. Dara O'Briain was an excellent choice, being a professional comedian who is also a geek.
        The idea of basic stargazing education is very good, but think it would have been better as a series of half hour programmes, rather than an hour 3 consecutive nights. But fair play to the BBC for trying it anyway. wonder what viewing fi

        • Probably no worse than the 3-hour long magic bullet/juicer/mixer [pro] BS we Canadians have to endure after 2am.
          • by Sulphur (1548251)

            Probably no worse than the 3-hour long magic bullet/juicer/mixer [pro] BS we Canadians have to endure after 2am.

            But it can't miss.

        • by Stooshie (993666)
          However, it did reflect what astronomy is really like. It mostly is waiting around for skies to clear and things in the sky to happen and speculating on previous events while you wait.
        • by arwel (245005)

          Actually the ratings were very respectable for BBC2:-
          1st night : 3.393 million, 11.7% share
          2nd night: 3.048 million, 11.8% share
          3rd night: 2.706 million, 11.3% share,
          plus about an extra 200,000 each night watching on BBC HD. The BBC views it as success, so expect something similar in the future.

      • by krou (1027572)
        Absolutely loved Brian Cox's "Wonders of the Solar System". Personally, would prefer the Beeb spent their cash on that, rather than shows like this ...
        • by owlnation (858981)

          "Absolutely loved Brian Cox's "Wonders of the Solar System". Personally, would prefer the Beeb spent their cash on that, rather than shows like this ..."

          If you live in the UK, it's our cash, not theirs. Not that they spend it in any kind of representative manner. While it is true that this kind of show is closer to their public service remit than the vast majority of their soap/reality/cooking/make-over show output, it still wasn't very good quality.

          It's been so long since the BBC has had to actually t

          • by iserlohn (49556)

            Let me guess.. Radio 4 listener...

            On the whole, the documentaries that the BBC produces is better than any other broadcaster, public or private in any other country in the anglosphere. I've lived in 4, and the BBC produces the best "factual" programming by far.

        • And as he nicely plugged during the show, he has a new series "Wonders of the Universe" starting in March.

          Personally I found this an interesting set of programmes. Yes there was some filler, but it was nice to see something vaguely intelligent on TV. All the old semi-heavyweight documentaries on UK TV have either disappeared (Equinox), or turned into a kind of lightweight, 'look what our CG department can do' fluffy documentary series (Horizon; see also Panorama).

          I still miss impenetrable Geometry program

        • If you noticed, most of the graphics from stargazing live were lifted directly from "Wonders of the Solar System". I'd prefer the beeb to do 3 hours of live stargazing than say, 3 hours of "breakfast", 3 hours of football, 3 hours of "cash in the attic", ..... (and it's nice to know that "Wonders of the universe" will be on the TV before too long.....)
    • No, Bob Ross is not on BBC.

    • LONDON--"Brace yourself for five piping-hot minutes of inertia," said William Barrett. Then he began reciting the names of every single one of 415 colors listed in a paint catalog: damson dream, dauphin, dayroom yellow, dead salmon...and on and on and on. Mr. Barrett's talk was titled, "Like Listening to Paint Dry," and to judge from the droopy faces in the audience, it was a hit. He was speaking, after all, at a conference of boredom enthusiasts called Boring 2010, held here Dec. 11.

      http://online.wsj.com [wsj.com]

    • by MattBD (1157291)
      It wasn't just a bunch of people standing around waiting for something to happen! This guy was essentially a reporter in the field and they cut to him every now and then, as well as to a woman in Hawaii, as well as some prerecorded segments. It was pretty interesting, actually.
    • Does the BBC also have a "live watching paint dry" show?

      Yes, Several. "live" Cricket, Star Trek, election coverage, darts, tiddlywinks, chess etc. etc.

  • Sowat? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EEDAm (808004) on Friday January 07, 2011 @06:22AM (#34789030)
    He didn't turn round to the camera, he was facing the camera ready to deliver his lines on a live link. And so a meteor appears behind him with his back turned. So frigging what? There's no miss and no mistake, just a bloke looking the other way as he must to do his job. And the clouds are clearly visible in the video as well. Non-article in extremis.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      You have to understand. This is the Daily Mail we're talking about. It's written by idiots for idiots. In other news, Aliens conspired with the Queen to have Princess Diana assasinated by falling house prices, and every single item in the world can be divided into those that either cure cancer or cause cancer. Drivel such as "BBC suck because man cannot see things that are behind him" is just par for the course for these drooling simps.

    • What's important is that WE saw it :-).
    • by Ponyegg (866243)
      I'm glad this topic cropped up as I was watching that episode and immediately thought.... hang on... wasn't that a meteor? But as no-one else on the show picked up on it I though that it was either plane on camera, or a local issue to me, a floater in my eye or some other less exotic answer. Nice to know my initial thoughts were correct. Personally I'm thoroughly enjoying this series, I think some of the US astronomers over in Hawaii that they cut to frequently (and even the live telephone conversation with
    • There's a preview clip on YouTube [youtube.com] where he appears to miss a meteor pass through the constellation that he's pointing out to someone. It's at 1:31 in the clip.
    • It's pretty funny though...

  • by Anonymous Coward
    This should have been posted there.
  • This is one of those things which was slightly amusing to witness when it happened, but loses everything in the retelling. It's not news, it's barely even an anecdote.

    And I'd point out the three nights of live stargazing was scheduled to straddle the partial solar eclipse on Tuesday.

  • by Viol8 (599362) on Friday January 07, 2011 @06:39AM (#34789112)

    ... so even if he had been facing it it wouldn't have been nearly as bright to his eyes as it was on the camera. In fact it might have been too dim to see at all with the naked eye.

    • by mike449 (238450)

      It was brighter than any stars in the camera field of view, which were not visible at all. Either the camera wasn't that sensitive, or the cloud cover was too thick.
      In either case, this meteor had to be very bright.

  • What a stupid summary. The guy was facing the camera, and the meteor appeared behind his back. Are we expecting astronomers to have eyes in the back of their head now?

    • After some of the shit professional astronomers took after the 10 year old found the supernova it is even more clear to me how the public just doesn't get science on nearly any level. The public doesn't think of them as people like Hubble, Spitzer or even Newton, they think that they should be like Gandalf, Merlin or Harry Potter.

      The sad thing about this? It seems that a lot of people on Slashdot seem to expect the same thing. Nothing better than the armchair pseudo-scientists who belittle others over some
      • by krou (1027572)

        Sheesh. Lighten up. I submitted the story because I thought it was amusing, not because I thought he was an idiot for not seeing it; the guy had been waiting patiently in a field on a cold night for ages to see something, but just when he had to talk to the camera, there goes the meteorite. The only thing I expected from Slashdot was for people to have a little giggle, not because he didn't have eyes in the back of his head, or because he isn't Merlin, but because of the situation.

        • by jeremyp (130771)

          The only thing I expected from Slashdot was for people to have a little giggle

          You must be new here.

  • Slashdot confirms it (Score:2, Informative)

    by Mathness (145187)

    Must be some really nice stuff the editors are smoking for this to pass as front page material.

  • I think I'm probably the only person in the entire country who didn't see it.

    "But I was paid a tidy sum to appear on the telly, so fuck the god-damned meteor ."

    • by Sulphur (1548251)

      I think I'm probably the only person in the entire country who didn't see it.

      "But I was paid a tidy sum to appear on the telly, so fuck the god-damned meteor ."

      Meteoric porn?

  • Mark Thompson, a television reporter missed the meteor because he was addressing a television camera ...

  • Anyone who's ever gone looking for meteors knows the feeling: the people you're with see a great one just as you were looking the other way --- it's almost part of the fun ;) --- so I agree that I don't find this very newsworthy... However, I'm also wondering how much the fact that this was being shot with a Night Vision camera (as the caption on the bottom left seems to imply?) would have affected the visibility of the meteor; in other words, even if the reporter had been looking straight at the meteor, wo

  • by Phil Hands (2365) on Friday January 07, 2011 @07:55AM (#34789418) Homepage

    The last time I had the misfortune to have my brain polluted by a Daily Mail story was when sitting bored in a physio's waiting room.

    Flipping the rag open at random, I see a headline something like:

        87% of Britons now members of a persecuted minority

    this little nugget of wisdom had apparently been assembled by taking the percentages of various "minorities" and adding them all together.

    The groups included:

        51% Women

    *cough* minority?

    and then:

        12% Single Mothers

    [SubEd Are you sure we can simply add that number to the Women?] [Ed: yeah, no problem]

  • Live astronomy in the cloudiest part of england at the cloudiest time of year?

    The Manchester area (where these programmes were recorded) is renowned for being rainy and January is one of the poorest for clear weather. It would hard to find a less suitable time and place to do a live programme about stargazing (the title of the show was Stargazing Live). There was, out of three solid hours of TV - no ad breaks on the BBC - about 10 minutes of live stargazing and that was all in the first episode. If you wa

    • by jo_ham (604554)

      Why backlash? I think you summed it up pretty accurately - I was expecting Ross to be shown *how* to use his telescope to see Jupiter. It's all very well doing it for him, but what did he learn (unless they showed him off camera)? There were no tips for how to actually pick things out with a telescope - it's harder than it looks and is like looking for faces in a room while staring down a long cardboard tube with one eye.

      • by petes_PoV (912422)
        Well, two sorts of backlash.

        The first from people who saw the programmes and were inspired to go out, get a telescope and try it for themselves. They were given no information about haw difficult it can be. Nothing about what sort of telescopes to get, how to fous, find objects, the merits of different eyepieces or what level of expectations they should have. The same goes for the tacit implications in the piece about photography. By framing that piece with high quality images from the masters of the art -

    • Indeed, and they are filming it at Jodrell Bank... which is noted for it's RADIO astronomy. Because as you note, the region is notorious for being overcast and wet.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      "Live astronomy in the cloudiest part of england at the cloudiest time of year?"

      yes, and something STILL happened. Why are people missing that point? On a cloudy day in england and astronomical event was still see. I find that really cool.

  • He'll have a fighting chance against Triffids then?
  • I look forward to the inevitable parody of this in an episode of Dr. Who, with all the presenters gleefully participating. Thompson missing a massive spaceship blazing through the atmosphere in the background, that sort of thing. "Oh, bugger, not again!" [sadtrombone.com]

    .
  • by wideBlueSkies (618979) * on Friday January 07, 2011 @01:39PM (#34793412) Journal

    Meteor misses you.

    Unless of course you're in Siberia and it's 1908.

If it's not in the computer, it doesn't exist.

Working...