Astronomy festival is out 
of this world

Herstmonceux Astronomy Festival SUS-140918-111547001
Herstmonceux Astronomy Festival SUS-140918-111547001

Herstmonceux Astronomy Festival celebrated its 10th anniversary over the first weekend in September.

The festival is hosted by The Observatory Science Centre - former home of the Royal Greenwich Observatory in Sussex.

Dr Sandra Voss, science director at the centre, said, “We still cannot quite believe we have just had the tenth event.

“Organisation began straight after the previous festival in 2013. But to celebrate this anniversary, we wanted it to be extra special - bigger and better than before.”

For this special anniversary, the observatory held an opening ceremony for invited guests, followed by a keynote lecture by Professor Donald Lynden-Bell from the University of Cambridge - famous for his research and predictions that black holes existed in the centre of galaxies.

Professor Lynden-Bell was a very active researcher at the Royal Greenwich Observatory at Herstmonceux from 1965 – 1972.

The lecture was introduced by Stephen Pizzey, joint founder and director of Science Projects Ltd who operate The Observatory Science Centre.

Almost 200 people attended the lecture which took place following a small drinks reception and the cutting of the anniversary cake.

Despite the clouds on Friday night the weekend got off to an excellent start.

The observatory was packed with activities throughout the weekend including rocket making and launching, interactive activities, sketching the Sun and Moon, radio astronomy, plus a pub quiz and family quiz.

Visitors were wowed with solar telescopes – viewing the Sun in incredible detail, plus looking at the Universe in 
our amazing mobile planet-arium.

There were talks about the historic telescopes - some of the largest in the country – how they were used and what they were used for.

The almost full Moon was a magnificent sight on Saturday night, breaking through the hazy cloud to give that extra special feel; perfect for International Observe the Moon Night 2014, which gave visitors the opportunity to get up close and discover the Moon’s craters and canyons in incredible detail.

To top it all off there was a world record attempt! Solar imager Gary Palmer of, with well-known presenter and imager Pete Lawrence, attempted to create the largest image of the Sun ever made from a mosaic of more than 150 separate images.

The attempt was sponsored by Astrograph Ltd, who provided the equipment in co-operation with SC Telescopes, a major sponsor of the festival.

In a few weeks, when the data has been processed the observatory hopes to see the final record breaking image.

Alongside all these fabulous activities were five lectures per day with speakers coming from Cambridge, Portsmouth, London and Sussex.

Dr Voss added, “It is fantastic to see familiar faces year after year coming from all over the country.”