PAISLEY observatory is gearing up to welcome a new wave of visitors to tie in with a prime-time TV programme, Star Gazing Live.

The Coats Observatory is hosting a range of events for amateur and experienced astronomers alike to build on the popular success of the BBC2 show.

The third series of Star Gazing Live, which is hosted by Irish comedian and science geek Dara O'Briain and Professor Brian Cox started last night.

John Pressly, observatory officer at the 130-year-old Paisley facility, says interest in the cosmos has rocketed since the show first aired.

He told the Evening Times: "At one point during the first series we had 300 people queuing up to get in.

"This is one of the best times of year to get involved because of the dark nights, and also Jupiter and the moon are in good positions."

The observatory is open 6.30pm to 9pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays for those interested in star gazing.

Mr Pressly added: "We set up telescopes in the garden, but when the weather is not great visitors can also take advantage of the planetarium, which allows us to project the night sky indoors."

The observatory is one of many across the country organising special events to tie in with Star Gazing Live.

Today, observatory staff will be at the Braehead mall to give shoppers the chance to try out solar scopes, which are used to study the sun. After sunset there will also be the chance to see the moon and Jupiter.

As part of the new TV series, the BBC has set up a website giving information about star gazing events across the UK.