Wish You Were Here? Searching for Exoplanets

I’ve been criminally remiss on this blog.  I made my big screen debut in arenas all around Scotland, and I haven’t mentioned it at all!

Wish You Were Here? Searching for Exoplanets is a collaboration between scientists and artists led by Tania Johnston of the Royal Observatory Edinburgh’s Visitor Centre, funded by a Scottish Government Engagement Grant, with contributions from the Royal Society and the Scottish Universities Physics Alliance.  Documentary film-making students at the Edinburgh College of Art were given a brief: to make a film about exoplanet research in Scotland.

After pitching their ideas to a judging panel (of which I was a member), two teams of two students were given the green light.  Researchers at the University of Edinburgh and the University of St Andrews starred in the two films, which were recorded in late 2011 and early 2012.

The two films, “Into Deep Space” (in which I featured) and “Close Distance“, got their premiere at the Edinburgh Science Festival, and have been touring the country ever since.  They’re certainly not the usual science documentary – the students have come at it from a very different angle, and it’s a refreshing take on the passion that scientists (and amateurs) have for their chosen field.  And the judges have enjoyed it, also.  “Into Deep Space” won an Honourable Mention at the Imagine Science Festival, and is nominated for several other prizes!

Most of the screenings have been attended by at least one member of the cast, to answer any questions the audience might have.  The films have been shown all over Scotland – I’ve just come back from a screening on Orkney, as part of their Science Festival.

Taken just outside the Orkney Brewery (an important visit during public engagement)

It’s been a real treat to see these films, and to see them go on tour and hear such favourable feedback.  If you want to see them on the big screen, then there are plenty of opportunities: if you can’t wait, whet your whistle on the trailers at the links above, and come to the Peebles Science Festival tomorrow (Wednesday 19th).  I’ll be there – feel free to come say hi! And if you see the films, let us know what you think: leave a comment, or tweet us with the hashtag #WYWHexoplanets.

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