AN UNEXPECTED guest visited a space observatory in Knighton and then enjoyed a meal at a pub in the town.

Prof Stephen Hawking, the celebrated theoretical physicist and cosmologist and science genius was treated just like any other visitor to the Spaceguard Centre and was taken on a scheduled tour.

The work at the Spaceguard centre is to observe and track asteroids which might threaten planet Earth.

They act as the national near Earth objects information centre for the UK.

Spaceguard director, Jay Tate, said: “It’s the first time he visited.”

“He got precisely the same tour as anyone else and we had no advance warning of his visit.

“I got to give him a lecture on our work here for an hour and a half.

“I don’t suppose many people can say that.

Mr Tate said that Prof Hawking is involved in the periphery of the study of near Earth objects and supports the World Asteroid Day.

World Asteroid Day is a global day of education to help protect the Earth from asteroids.

Jay continued: “He’s seen as a heavy hitter giving his backing to Asteroid Day, and if you’re interested in asteroids, this is the place to come and visit.

“So it’s not really surprising that he came here.”

After his visit to the observatory, Stephen Hawking visited the Horse and Jockey pub where he enjoyed a meal.

Staff at the pub said that he asked for privacy while there.

Prof Hawking adds to a long list of celebrity visitors that includes the late Sir Patrick Moore, the Astronomer Royal, Lord Martin Rees and even a few former astronauts.

The centre, interestingly names all it’s projects after James Bond film villains and is continuing it’s work on ‘Project Drax’, which is to install and operate the biggest telescope in Wales

It will be used to conduct a wide field sky survey to detect Near Earth Objects and other transient phenomena.

Hugo Drax appeared as the villain in the film ‘Moonraker’, he built a space station and planned to kill off the human race.

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