February 2010 Archives
Tel: 01732 446113
Ticket hotline: 01732 446106
THE UNIVERSE COMES TO LONDON FOR ASTROFEST 2010
LONDON - European AstroFest 2010, the largest gathering of amateur astronomers in Europe, will take place on 5-6 February at the Kensington Conference and Events Centre, West London. The two day conference and trade exhibition, organised by Astronomy Now magazine, attracts thousands of participants and features speakers from across the astronomical world.
Topping the bill at this year's event is Dr Jill Tarter of the SETI Institute. Tarter - the inspiration behind the main character in Carl Sagan's novel Contact - is a leading researcher in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) and will give talks on both days to celebrate the 50th anniversary of SETI.
Also in attendance is Professor Richard Crowther, Head of International Relations at the British National Space Centre and a European Space Agency consultant, who will talk of the dangers of the 35 million pieces of space junk orbiting above our heads and efforts to minimise both the very real risks they pose to satellites, the space station and space shuttle, and to the lives of astronauts.
Dr Jim Wild of Lancaster University will talk about another threat from space: solar storms that could disable the high-tech electronic infrastructure that modern society relies on. Could a powerful solar flare send us back into the dark ages?
A highlight of the conference will be an appearance by Sir Patrick Moore and his friend Dr Brian May, who will reminisce about their shared love of astronomy and also discuss Dr May's book on a pioneer of stereoscopic photography, T R Williams.
Additional speakers include:
- Planetary scientist Professor William McKinnon from Washington University talking about the moons of Jupiter and Saturn,
- Professor Monica Grady of the Open University discussing whether comets and meteorites brought life to Earth long ago,
- Amateur astronomer Tom Boles who holds the record for discovering the most supernovae (exploding stars) from his back-garden observatory - 127 in all,
- Dr Mark Sullivan from the University of Oxford will look into 'dark energy', a mysterious force that is causing the expansion of the Universe to speed up,
- Dr Alan Penny of the University of St Andrews, who will address the size of the Universe,
- Dr Mike Edmunds of the University of Cardiff will delve into a bit of medieval history, exploring a new idea that Henry VIII's split from Rome may have owed as much to the theories of Copernicus as to his marital strife,
- Dr Alastair Gunn of Jodrell Bank will discuss eclipsing binary stars,
- Professor Richard Bower of the University of Durham will reveal what life would be like in a galaxy cluster,
- and Dr Allan Chapman, a science historian from the University of Oxford, will describe the history of the search for life on other worlds, dating back at least four centuries.
The conference programme is chaired and organised by Ian Ridpath, and co-chaired by Iain Nicolson.
The show also features three floors of trade stands featuring telescope dealers, universities, publishers and astronomical societies. Tickets to the lecture conference start at £15 per session, and entry into the trade exhibition is £5 for adults and £2.50 for children. Reporters wishing to attend should register with Keith Cooper or Wendy Collins prior to the event (contact details at the top of this release).