Brighton academic's galactic ambition

Posted On 19 Dec 2009 at 12:30 am

A Brighton academic is helping his neighbours to glimpse life in space.
Dr Mark Erickson posts details in the window of his house of when the International Space Station (ISS) can be seen with the naked eye.
Dr Erickson, a sociology lecturer at Brighton University, regularly watches the space station in the sky with his daughter Mili, 3.
He said that she could now pick out other cosmic bodies such as Mars.
And some of Dr Erickson’s neighbours in Brighton have started to join him on the pavement at dusk to see the space station in orbit.
The ISS is the brightest object in the night sky after the Moon. It was launched in 1998 and carries five astronauts at 17,000mph.
Dr Erickson, a principal lecturer in the university’s School of Applied Social Sciences, is providing the poster service on a front window of his house as a civic gesture.
But he also has a space mission of his own – to show that “science and society are often a lot closer than people think they are, and it means anyone can have meaningful interaction with science”.
He said that the concept could have other benefits, adding: “If you look at astronomy, many of the major breakthroughs and discoveries have been made by amateurs.
“This applies in any field, from microbiology to environmental science.
“We may specialise in these subjects but it can be someone who is unconnected who points out something we haven’t seen before.
“We need to remind ourselves that science is not so remote and that there is still a role for amateurs.”
For more information on the space station and when to see it, click here.

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