Stellar line-up for week-long Tenerife astronomy festival

Luminaries such as Buzz Aldrin, Brian May and Richard Dawkins will gather on Tenerife this summer for the Starmus festival from 20-25 June.
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World-leading professional telescopes benefit from the clear atmospheric conditions of Tenerife

 
By Jim Allen

The greatest ever gathering of astronomers and astronauts will be taking place in Tenerife this summer.

Astronauts Buzz Aldrin, Jim Lovell and Alexei Leonov, plus rock star Brian May and biologist Richard Dawkins will travel to the island, which is home to some of the most advanced observatories in the world, to celebrate science and space exploration.

Starmus will take place between 20-25 June to mark this year's 50th anniversary of manned spaceflight.

The event will celebrate astronomy with a number of talks and exhibitions, along with a concert from electronic music pioneers Tangerine Dream. Making a guest appearance during their 'Sonic Universe' show will be Queen guitarist and astronomer Brian May, who will also be speaking at the festival.

The festival will begin with a tribute to Yuri Gagarin led by his contemporaries, including the first woman in space Valentina Tereshkova. Joining her will be fellow cosmonauts Alexei Leonov, Sergei Avdeyev, Victor Gorbatko, Gennady Padalka, Yuri Baturin and Sergei Krikalyov.

The list of American astronauts is equally impressive, reading like a who's who of the US space programme. Aside from Aldrin and Lovell, they include Rusty Schweickart, Charlie Duke, Bill Anders and Edward Tsang Lu. Completing the line-up are Swiss astronaut Claude Nicollier and the first female space tourist, Anousheh Ansari. A documentary about Gagarin and archive Soviet documents will also be shown.

During the rest of the week, there will be lectures from some of the biggest names in science.

Theoretical physicist Kip Thorne will explain black holes, Richard Dawkins will discuss exobiology and religion, and COBE scientist George Smoot will give a talk on the leftover radiation from the Big Bang. Renowned astrophysicist Prof Joseph Silk and SETI researcher Dr Jill Tarter are other big names in a truly impressive lineup of speakers.

Aside from academic talks, there will be plenty to interest amateur astronomers. During a day-long conference, professional and amateur astronomers will give short talks about their collaborations on topics including Solar System objects, variable stars and supernovae.

Throughout the week there will be exhibitions open, including a gallery of entries to an international astrophotography competition, a SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) zone and ‘Beyond your imagination’, an exhibition combining the work of space artists and scientists.

Tickets are available now. Prices range from €660 (£580) to €950 (£840), including access to the conferences and exhibitions and meals during the day.

A more expensive option includes the Tangerine Dream concert and a welcome dinner.

Flights to Tenerife are available from many major UK airports including London Gatwick, Manchester and Edinburgh.

To find out more about this event visit the Starmus website.

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