BBC Sky At Night presenter and Professor of Astrophysics, Chris Lintott will be discussing black holes and the deepest mysteries of the universe with award-winning science author Lucy Hawking at Space Rocks. Here’s what fascinates him about the subject of astronomy and space exploration…


When did you first fall in love with space?
When I first looked through a telescope! I was about eight and the telescope was pointed at Albeiro – a beautiful yellow and blue double star. I remember thinking how amazing it was that we could find these secret things in the sky.


From presenting The Sky At Night to your online project, Zooniverse, you’ve got a tremendous track record of public engagement – why is public outreach important?
If we’re going to spend money on exploring the Universe, I think everyone should have the chance to take part in the adventure. Less prosaically, I think spending a bit of your day worrying not about email or work but thinking about the Universe is good for you – so hopefully that’s something everyone can have a piece of.


Tell us about your new book The Crowd and the Cosmos – what is, ‘citizen science’?
The Crowd and the Cosmos is an adventure story, about what happened when I asked everybody to help us do science. We started with people classifying galaxies, and now they count penguins and look closely at cells and transcribe ancient manuscripts and much more…


What are the biggest astronomical questions you’d like to see answered in your lifetime? 
I think we’ll know in the next 20 years if life is common in the Universe. What’s amazing about that is that both answers are fascinating, and either way we’ll end up with a whole load of new questions to answer.


Are you looking forward to Space Rocks?
Yes! There are some amazing speakers – I’m looking forward to hearing Suzie Imber and Tamsin Edwards in particular.


• Chris’s new book The Crowd and the Cosmos: Adventures in the Zooniverse is out next month, published by Oxford University Press. Get your tickets for Space Rocks here!