Keen amateur astronomers who have used a popular internet site based at the University of Leicester were the motivation for a winning entry to an international competition.
Darren Baskill, a 23-year-old postgraduate student in the University's Physics and Astronomy Department, answers a vast range of queries about space on a specially designed web site.
Using e-mail, Darren is part of a departmental team responding to every question sent in. He decided to enter the New Scientist and the Wellcome Trust Millennial Science Writer Competition for postgraduate students to write a short article on their areas of interest.
His article was about stars that exist in 'pairs' very closely together. The two stars orbit around each other in a mutual relationship.
After Darren had sent off his entry he went to Japan for two months to work at the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science in Tokyo. "When I came home I had forgotten about the competition. I opened a mound of post and found a letter saying that I had won a runner-up prize and that I had to reply to accept an invitation to the prize-giving ceremony."
Darren will travel to his hometown of Sheffield on Wednesday 15 September for the ceremony where Science Minister Lord Sainsbury and broadcaster Lord Bragg will be giving out the awards.
He will not be the only winner from the University of Leicester.
Emma Knight, 25, from Mansfield, who is in the third year of her doctoral research in the Department of Biochemistry is another runner-up.
Never tiring of explaining the theory behind her research to inquisitive relatives, Emma decided to put her words down on paper when application forms for a different writing competition, the Daily Telegraph's Young Science Writer Awards, were handed around the Biochemistry department. A few months later, the New Scientist/Wellcome competition gave her the chance to write a second essay on a different aspect of her research.
The articles addressed aspects about how many tumors are able to regulate the extent and timing of their malignancy, via an intimate relationship with blood vessels. Both of these essays were successful, with Emma gaining a certificate of merit for the first essay and finishing as a runner-up with the second essay.
Darren and Emma will both receive free subscription to the weekly New Scientist for one year.
NOTE TO NEWSDESK: Darren can be contacted on 0116 252 3557 and Emma is on 0116 252 3461.
This document has been approved by the head of department or section.
If you are an authorised user you may edit this document through your Web browser.