Ishbel Wright

My stargazing story doesn’t start off with a telescope but with children’s film...


Ishbel Carlyle

Science Communication

Ishbel headshot
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!