From the International Space Station, astronaut Alexander Gerst will answer the best questions young Glaswegians could come up with in the culmination of the “Ask an Astronaut” competition.

Closer to home, Glasgow Science Centre will host a free-entry night of discovery, touching on everything from “really small science” – the world of nanotechnology – to an exposition of the darkest skies in the world by Steve Owens, author of “Stargazing for Dummies”.

Explorathon is a Scotland-wide programme showcasing the most innovative research in Scottish universities. More than 6,000 people are expected to engage with around 200 researchers from seven universities in four cities – Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen – all on the evening of Friday, September 26, as part of European Researchers’ Night.

The Universities of Glasgow and Strathclyde are working in partnership to run a number of hands-on activities aimed at children, families and schools from lunchtime at Intu Braehead. Participants will learn about light, make messy things from really tiny nano-stuff and watch as a 3D object is created before their eyes.

The main focus of the two universities’ activity, however, will be in the evening – first of all when an audience at Cineworld IMAX hears the European astronaut Alexander Gerst’s answers to the best questions local young people could devise in the “Ask an Astronaut” competition.

Next door, the Glasgow Science Centre will play host to a wide range of research activities. The Discovery Zone will offer hands-on demonstrations, interactive games and meet-the-researcher events, connecting people of all ages with cutting-edge research; “Researchers in the Spotlight” in the auditorium will offer short talks, taking the audience from deep on the ocean floor to the inner depths of the human mind; the Glasgow Skeptics group will host an inside account of the hunt for the Higgs boson , delivered by Professor Jon Butterworth of University College London; the Bright Club will feature the brightest and bravest researchers performing stand-up comedy routines about their work; and many others. Jamie Gallagher, public engagement officer for the University of Glasgow, said: “I’m really excited that Glasgow is hosting this huge Explorathon event. The night will be opened with a special message all the way from the International Space Station – and then we’ve decamped our brightest researchers from the labs and the libraries of our universities to create an exciting night of exploration and discovery.

“We’re throwing back the curtains and asking everyone to come and get involved and be hands-on with the world-class research that is happening right at our doorstep – demos, discussion, debates and games as we cover everything from art to zoology with Scotland’s first ever European Researchers’ Night.”

Carol Trager-Cowan from the University of Strathclyde said “I am really looking forward to Explorathon’s extravaganza of shows, talks, hands-on activities, comedy and discovery! It will be huge fun. It is really great to have the opportunity to celebrate the vibrant, innovative research taking place in Glasgow, across Scotland and throughout Europe – it will be a wonderful night.”

For more information and to book for events taking place as part of Explorathon, visit or follow the event @ERNSCOT on Twitter and



The Ask an Astronaut competition is supported by Glasgow Science Centre, Cineworld and Scottish Universities Physics Alliance (SUPA)

Glasgow Cafe Scientifique

European Researchers’ Night