The Astronomer’s Universe is a short documentary that attempts to capture the physical, emotional and spiritual space that an astronomer both occupies and explores.
Filmed on location at the Bayfordbury Observatory, part of the University of Hertfordshire.
All satellite images, video and animation used in the film are real, courtesy of NASA.
“I'm Dr Mark Gallaway, I'm the technical officer at the Bayfordbury Observatory, associated with the University of Hertfordshire.
“So there are 200 billion stars in the galaxy - and our galaxy is a pretty average galaxy. There are about 100 - 200 billion galaxies, so there are a lot of stars. And from current observations we're getting at the moment, it looks like every star has planets. With that many stars, and that many planets, the likelihood is that life has arisen on some of them.
“Astrophysics; 99% of it is a grind. We spend an awful lot of time doing really mundane things. There's a lot of reading, there's a lot of computer coding, there's a lot of running simulations and things like this.
“But about 1% of the time you discover something, and it's completely joyous. I remember as an undergrad I got my first new object, and it's a really amazing moment and that never goes away - when you're sitting there and you think, 'No one in the entire world knows what I know.' It's a really really amazing feeling.
“People like looking up and looking into the heavens and there's incredible beauty out there. I mean, I always say that a science fiction artist couldn't make up the stuff that we see.
“I like to think that our entire knowledge of the universe is like a high brick wall. And every time that we make a discovery we remove a brick out. It's small steps. And eventually, you know you can peer through and see what's on the other side of the wall.
“But it is an absolutely beautiful moment when you'll be able to get that little bit of information, either something completely new or something that confirm what you've been doing, or even actually, disproves it.
“Astrophysics isn't easy. It's difficult to understand. A lot of questions, and a lot of questions that push against people's understanding and pushes against their faith as well sometimes.
“Because time started at the Big Bang, there's no way of knowing what came before it. So, some of these questions are just unanswerable - there will always be questions that have no answer.”
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