February 2011 Archives

Official AstroFest photography!

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Check out our album of official AstroFest photography, taken by the brilliant Max Alexander!

Lunt Solar Systems product review

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Astronomy Now's equpiment consultant Nick Howes checks out Lunt Solar Systems' products.

Skywatcher EQ8 product review at AstroFest

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Astronomy Now's equpiment consultant Nick Howes checks out the Skywatcher EQ8 on Optical Vision Ltd's stand at AstroFest 2011.

Product reviews from AstroTrac

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Richard from AstroTrac presents the new TT320X-AG and a prototype EQ mount that will be launched at NEAF in April 2011!

Atik cameras - product review

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Steve Chambers from Atik Cameras talks about their new high res CCD chips and more


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We hope you've all recovered from AstroFest and have lots of wonderful memories of the two days. We'd love to hear what you thought of the event, so please do get in touch.... either by leaving a comment here, on our Facebook Page or via the #astrofest feed on Twitter, or by emailing us at web2011[AT]astronomynow[DOT]com.
We'll be including some of your comments when we come to write our full report in the April issue of Astronomy Now magazine! 

To the pub!

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Well, the final purchases are being made as the doors close on AstroFest 2011. It's been an absolutely fantastic two days, thank you to everyone involved - especially you guys for coming! We still have a number of video blog entries to edit and upload, but in the meantime, check out our latest photo album here

I think we've all deserved that drink now... I'm off to the Tweetup at The Devonshire Arms just down the road, see you there! 

A lot of books for Brian Cox to sign!

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Professor Brian Cox was kept busy for several hours signing his book Wonders of the Solar System. I was lucky enough to be in the room helping with the signings, but I hear the queue wrapped around the exhibition, down the stairs, and out of the front door! Brian also delivered an excellent talk to a packed out conference hall on the Large Hadron Collider and particle physics.

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Dr Brian May on the Astronomy Now stand

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Dr Brian May paid a visit to the Astronomy Now stand earlier today, where he demonstrated some of his 3D/Stereo postcards of space.


Product review at Opticron/Vixen

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A view from the queue - video

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I thought I would go and chat to random people in the massive queue outside AstroFest this morning, to see what they were most looking forward to today. It turns out many of them were here yesterday, too! 

Saturday morning's conference programme

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Kicking things off this morning is Alan Fitzimmons talking on Near-Earth Objects, followed by author and film writer Chris Riley on the forgotten films of Apollo. After the coffee break we have comedienne Helen Keen presenting her show "It IS rocket science", followed by Ed Krupp on stone-age astronomy.

If you have a session 3 ticket then you can also enjoy Dr Brian May's appearance, who will introduce a presentation by the Starmus Festival organisers in the main hall at 1pm. 

Limited edition Atik Cameras selling fast!

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Atik's special limited edition run of ten  Gold 314L+ cameras (they are usually red) with custom carrying case and numbered Certificate of Authenticity are selling fast - when we called into the stand at lunchtime they had already sold 4! 

While you're at the stand, vote for your favourite image in Atik's Imaging Contest, which are all on display downstairs in stand 25-27. It's going to be a close call for sure, as all the images are absolutely superb. 

Me (and a few others) on the big stage!

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So here are a few shots from the conference programme yesterday, as taken by our professional photographer Max Alexander, including yours truly, Chris Arridge and Ed Krupp. 

Me on Phobos :-)


Ed Krupp

Chris Arridge

Faulkes Telescope LIVE!

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AstroFest attendees were treated to a hugely successful LIVE demonstration of the Faulkes Telescope this morning. I think even the speaker, Paul Roche, was surprised at just how successful it was! 

The Faulkes Telescope Project uses two telescopes, one based in Hawaii and one in Australia, and gives access to schools and astronomical societies to collect data that can contribute to scientific research. 

With the help of a member of the audience (Nick Howes, not a fix at all!) he slewed the telescope to three objects - the eskimo nebula, a globular cluster and an open cluster - demonstrating just how easy it is to use the Faulkes interface. 

You can find out more about getting involved with outreach projects with the Faulkes Telescope at: http://www.faulkes-telescope.com/.

Day one at AstroFest

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Wow, we have been just so busy that there has hardly been time to blog...sorry! But we have had time to add the latest batch of photos to our Facebook Album (click here!) 

We've also spent some time shooting videos of various products on display at the AstroFest exhibition, along with interviews with the exhibitors and product reviews from Astronomy Now's equipment consultant Nick Howes. They're going to take a little time to process, but we'll have them up soon!

Dr Brian May at AstroFest tomorrow!

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We are pleased to announce that there will be a special presentation introduced by Dr Brian May on the Starmus Festival at 1pm Saturday lunchtime in the Great Hall! After the presentation he will be signing copies of Bang! and A Village Lost and Found, which can be bought from the Astronomy Now Stand. 

All session 3 conference ticket holders may attend... and a limited number of free tickets will also be available from the front desk on Saturday morning.

Conference Session 1

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The doors to the AstroFest 2011 exhibition are just minutes away from opening! Here's a recap of this morning's conference programme - there are still tickets available to purchase on the door.

Friday, February 4, 2011
Session 1 (morning)


Chairman: Ian Ridpath

10.00Phobos and Deimos, the amazing moons of Mars
Emily Baldwin
Astronomy Now
10.35Observing with the Faulkes Telescopes
Paul Roche
Faulkes Telescope
11.10Coffee break

Chairman: Iain Nicolson

11.40Epsilon Aurigae: Eclipses from beyond the Solar System
Nathalie Thureau
University of St Andrews
12.15Strangers and giants: Uranus and Neptune
Chris Arridge
UCL Mullard Space Science Laboratory
12.50Lunch break

Ground floor exhibitor - Astronomy Now

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Missed an issue of Astronomy Now? Pick up back issues for just 50p... or 4 for a £1! That's for any issue up to and including 2009, even yearbooks! 2010 issues will be available for just £1, and of course you can pick up the current issue for £3.50. We also have posters and special publications, and a credit-crunching subscriptions offer...if you sign up for a subscription during AstroFest it will cost you just £28, that's a saving of £14 off the newsstand price, and £5 off our standard yearly subscription offer! 

The conference hall

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Chuck Wood, Ed Krupp and myself have just tested out our talks on the big screen. Here's a sneaky shot of the conference hall, for those of you who haven't been here before. It looks even bigger when you're standing on the stage, trust me!

I'll be opening the conference programme tomorrow morning at 10am with my talk on Phobos and Deimos. See you there! 

Ed Krupp arrives at AstroFest

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Our second American speaker, Ed Krupp, has also just arrived. Ed is the Director of Griffith Observatory in LA and is an expert on ancient, prehistoric and traditional astronomy, and has visited over 1,900 sites around the world of astronomical and archaeological interest. 

Tomorrow he'll be discussing the truth behind the claims that the world will end in 2012 (Read more here) and on Saturday he will present the relationship between the likes of Stonehenge and the sky in his "Under stone-age skies" talk (Read more here).

Chuck Wood is in the house!

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One of our American speakers, Chuck Wood, the face behind Lunar Photo of the Day, has just touched down at AstroFest. He'll be speaking on both days in sessions 2 and 4. 

In his first talk he'll discuss lunar transient phenomena and the modern understanding of the Moon (read the synopsis here), and in his second talk he'll teach us how to read the Moon, from impact craters to lavas and rilles (read the synopsis here)! 

And so the building begins!

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A few snaps from this morning as the stands are built and the first exhibitors arrive! For the full spread of behind-the-scenes photos, check out our AstroFest Facebook album. All photos by Justin Kutner / Astronomy Now. 






Lower floor exhibitor: Astronomia

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Astronomia would like to announce a brand new product.... Our beautiful hardwood observing chair.
chair.jpgThe slender solid ash design makesthe chair lightweight and portable, with an adjustable seat that moves easily and quickly from an 850mm height right down to 200mm.  Four legs ensure complete stability even at full height, and an adjustable footrest provides added comfort for astronomers of every size.

The back of the chair reveals another brilliant feature - a built-in ladder making your eyepiece easy to reach no matter what size the telescope.

Top quality brass fittings and durable lacquer ensure that the chair will make a beautiful, robust and long-lasting addition to any serious astronomer's kit.

The chair is handmade in Surrey, England and is exclusive to Astronomia.  We will be launching it at Astrofest 2011 and will be taking orders at a special introductory price during the show.  The joiner who created it will be at the Astronomia stand to answer any questions.

Lower Floor Exhibitor: Atik Cameras

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Atik, in conjunction with Ian King Imaging, will be featuring a special limited edition run of ten  Gold 314L+ cameras (they are usually red) with custom carrying case and numbered Certificate of Authenticity.


In the meantime, why not check out our other products at: http://www.Atik-Cameras.com/. We look forward to seeing you at stands 25-27.

Upper Floor Exhibitor - Optical Vision Ltd

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On display at the Optical Vision Ltd stand at this year's Astrofest will be the following new Skywatcher products:


Skyliner-400P 16" Flextube Go-To Dobsonian, a prototype of the forthcoming EQ8 Synscan Go-To mount, the SkyTee-2 Dual Alt-Azimuth mount, the new QUATTRO-series f/4 Carbon-Fibre Imaging Newtonians and ED150 3/5 Element Apochromatic Refractor.

Visit Optical Vision Ltd upstairs on stands 47-48. 

And so to Kensington Town Hall!

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Well, we're all packed up here at Astronomy Now HQ and the advance party has already gone to make sure everything is in order at the Kensington Conference and Events Centre, ready for our exhibitors to arrive bright and early tomorrow morning. 

I'll be blogging from the site tomorrow and over the two day show, including video reviews of some brand new products on display at the exhibition, so you can find out how things are progressing by checking back here! 

Wishing you all a safe journey to London and we'll see you there! 

Lower Floor Exhibitor: Explorers Astronomy Tours

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Explorers Astronomy Tours will be promoting an exciting range of astronomical holidays featuring the Northern Lights in Iceland, meteor showers in Turkey and eclipses in the States andAustralia


At our stand you have the chance to win a discount of £250 off one of our tours by entering our competition.


If you've travelled with us before, why not pop over and share your experiences? We look forward to seeing travellers, past present and future at the show. We're based on the lower floor, stand 20.

Find out more: www.astronomytours.co.uk

Join us on Stands 1-6 Ground Floor and meet: Orion Telescopes & Binoculars with their Goto Dobsonians, Tele Vue Officina Stellare (RC320 as reviewed by Nik Szymanek in November's Astronomy Now), APM, Finger Lakes Instrumentation, Takahashi, Meade and Lunt Solar Systems. See the T-Rex mount, SkyWire, 10 Micron GM2000 and much, much more....

In the meantime, find out more at www.widescreen-centre.co.uk

Upper Floor Exhibitor - Skylight Telescopes

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Astrofest-1 .jpgSkylight Telescopes continues to operate outside the mainstream with their expanding range of hand-assembled, premium Skylight Refractors. At Astrofest 2011, our flagship model the Skylight F15 will be on display complete with a brand new, custom-made brass 8 x 40mm finder.

Skylight-f13-8.jpgNew this year will be the Skylight F13; an elegant sibling of the majestic F15 in a shorter, more manageable OTA. You can also take advantage of a show-only pre-order price on the F13. 

While the shorter dimensions mean a more manageable optical tube and more mounting options, the F13 shares much with its bigger brother, including:

a.. An unmatched attention to detail
b.. The fusion of modern engineering with Victorian design
c.. Excellent Japanese 100mm/F13 objective
d.. Premium Baader Steeltrack focuser

The Skylight F13 will be seen in public for the first time at Astrofest 2011 this Friday and Saturday in London. For these two days only, it will be available at a substantially discounted three-figure sum. Come and see for yourself how breathtaking a handmade refractor can be.

Several unmissable vintage and antique refractors will also be upstairs on the Skylight stage. Our pledge is to only display items that are not shown anywhere else in the building, so you will only see our remarkable refractors & accessories upstairs on Stand 44. 

In addition, Skylight will also be hosting Gerry and his display of one-offs & bargains that has become an Astrofest tradition!

We look forward to seeing you upstairs at Skylight Telescopes on stand 44. Find out more about our products on our website http://skylight.myshopify.com/

Eating and drinking around High St Kensington

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The Kensington Conference and Events Centre will be offering light refreshments from its cafe-bar on the first floor throughout the two-day event, but you may prefer to dine out if you have more time. This list of restaurants and pubs (many of the latter also serve food) is by no means comprehensive, but is designed to give you an overview of some of the local eateries, all of which are no more than 15 minutes walk away from the Events Centre - just click on the restaurant/pub name for a location map and more information. If you have further suggestions please leave a comment! 


There are plentiful coffee shops near High Street Kensington Tube station for coffee and a sandwich, including Pret a Manger inside the station arcade and a Boots and Marks and Spencers if you need to grab a sandwich or a drink on your way to the exhibition hall. There's also a Tesco Metro a short walk left out of the tube station. There's also a Caffe Nero on Wright's Lane just behind the tube station, and Starbucks can be found further down Kensington High Street in either direction.


For those looking for just a quick bite to eat: 

Byron - 'gourmet' burger chain 

Med Kitchen - brasserie 

Patisserie Valerie - coffee and cakes  

Pizza Hut - pizza & pasta 

Wagamama - Japanese/Asian 

For a more leisurely lunch or dinner (check with restaurant for booking information):

The Abbingdon - Modern European and international  


Cafe Rouge - French bistro 

Maggie JonesEnglish  


Sticky Fingers - American 

Thai Terrace - authentic Thai  

The Terrace - modern British  

For pub lunches or post-AstroFest beers:

The Britannia   (Separate dining area)

The Builders Arms  (World cuisine, world beers and real ale)

Churchill Arms (Thai food, Fuller's pub)

The Devonshire Arms  (Food) **Suggested location of AstroFest tweetup Saturday from 6pm**

The Elephant and Castle (Real Ale)


Kensington Arms (Food and real ale)

Prince of Wales (Food available)

The Queens Arms (Food and real ales)

If you would like to make your own search for local restaurants, the full address of the AstroFest venue is: Kensington Conference and Events Centre, The Town Hall, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, Hornton Street, London W8 7NX

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from February 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

January 2011 is the previous archive.

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