Astrofest 2012
Astrofest 2012

Combined with our London trip, or more accurately, the whole reason for the London trip was this years 2012 Astrofest, Europe’s largest Astronomy conference get together at Kensington Conference Centre.  An indulgent day of all things astronomy related, attend presentations, blag free goodies, a chance to look at some of the most recent and expensive telescopes available and decide that my equipment needs upgrading.  Now this is a two day event but I only attended the 2nd day presentations while sent Sam went shopping.


  • The Sun from both sides by Lucie Green.  A great talk on coronal mass ejections, Solar Flares, magnetic activity on the suns surface and sun quakes.  You may have seen her TV a few times including Stargazing live.
  • What was that thing? by Hanny Van Arkel.  Hanny is a biology teacher who took part in the Galaxy Zoo citizen science project.  Hanny talked about her discovery of a peculiar looking object now called Hanny’s Voorwerp in her honour.
  • Spaceweather by Paal Brekke.  How to see and capture images of the Northern Lights.  looks like we need a trip to Norway.
  • The big bang for beginners by Simon Singh.  A lively presentation from Simon who electrocuted a gherkin as part of his presentation and got Katie Melua to rerecord the lyrics from her song 9 Million Bicycles to fit in with the observable universe.  Always enjoyed Simons TV programmes, articles and books.  His presentations are certainly lively.
  • The transits of Venus by William Sheehan.  After the transit of in June this year, there won’t be another one until 2117.  I’ve already booked the day off.  I am a geek after all.
  • Black holes and galaxies with Marc Sarzi.  Just why do supermassive black holes have a mass that is usually 0.2% of their host galaxy?
  • Exploring the Apollo landing sites with lunar geologist Noah Petro.  A very passionate talk with  new unreleased images from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter showing equipment and tracks left by the Apollo astronauts.
  • In search of the dark (dark matter/energy) with Carlos Frenk.  An enjoyable talk discussing the latest theory that dark matter may be an elementary particle and far stranger than we could ever think.

Very enjoyable, even if a little bit crowded.  Nice to be able to look at lots of telescopes and chat to see what might the next telescope for me.  I was after a few bits and bobs but didn’t manage to pick up what I need because they didn’t have them on the stalls.  I’ve also decided to stick to simple Astrophotography as the prices, forgive the pun, are astronomical.  The talks are inspiring to go back and study more and join an local astronomical association.  I do keep threatening to.  Good to see some famous faces including Queen guitarist and astronomer Brian may, comedian Jon Culshaw and Patrick Moore.  Is it worth going next year?  Definitely, but surely it would better if it was more midlands based though.




Nick Cook. Amateur astronomer, space, history, nerd, extreme dog walker, cat slave, severe tinnitus sufferer. 13.7 billion years in the making - not that much better for it.

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