Ishbel Carlyle

Ishbel Carlyle

Science Communication

If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe

My stargazing story doesn’t start off with a telescope but with children’s film. ‘Barbie in Swan Lake’ opens with Barbie pointing out the constellation Cygnus as a segue into the story. I thought finding dot to dots in the sky was magical. The DVD contained a constellation finding game and I loved it. Not your typical science introduction film but there you go. When I was older, my dad remembered I wanted to get into star gazing as a hobby, and, now that my bedtime wasn’t as early as it had been when I was watching Barbie, he got me a telescope for my birthday. Around that time I was also deciding what I wanted to do with my life after high school. It was from there that I discovered that observing the night sky could actually be a degree! I decided that my aim in life was to be able to look out at the night sky and know exactly what I was looking at. After finishing my Master’s degree in Astrophysics at St Andrews university I wasn’t sure I would get to continue my pursuit of understanding the universe as a job but here I am- paid to geek out with fellow enthusiasts!

  • Who is your favourite constellation:Orion - I have a specific fondness for his left knee where a cluster of young stars are located. I modelled this cluster for my dissertation to try to find a way to age the stellar evolutionary phases.
  • What I want to see most in the night sky:The aurora! It’s evaded me for 5 years up north but it’s a lot darker here so fingers crossed!
  • Favourite thing about stargazing:Besides the giddy excitement and sense of marvel - the obligatory number 1 star gazers’ companion: hot chocolate!