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Tenth year of festival at village observatory

Saturday night at the 2012 Herstmonceux Astronomy Festival. Looking across the site towards Domes A, B and C.JPET Museum at Night May13 ENGSUS00320130508205345

Saturday night at the 2012 Herstmonceux Astronomy Festival. Looking across the site towards Domes A, B and C.JPET Museum at Night May13 ENGSUS00320130508205345

The annual Herstmonceux Astronomy Festival is celebrating its 10th anniversary.

Hosted by The Observatory Science Centre at Herstmonceux – home of the Royal Greenwich Observatory (RGO) until 1990 – the festival started in 2005 as an idea put forward by Pulsar Observatories, based in Norfolk and Telescope House from Marsh Green in Kent.

They suggested starting an event at the former home of British astronomy with visitors camping over a weekend.

“We cannot quite believe that we have already reached our 10th anniversary,” said Dr Sandra Voss, science director at The Observatory Science Centre.

This year’s festival takes place from September 5-7. The festival brings together a host of traders offering state-of-the-art equipment, plus astronomy societies and facilitators offering astronomy-related things to do. Alongside planetarium shows, rocketry workshops, and informal talks about the telescopes provided by observatory staff, there will be a number of interactive activities available during the daytime sessions presented by South East Physics Network (SEPnet), South Downs National Park Authority, and others.

2014 promises to deliver the biggest and best festival yet with an opening address by Stephen Pizzey, joint founder of Science Projects Ltd who owns and operates the science centre, followed by a keynote lecture by Prof Donald Lynden-Bell, CBE FRS, titled ‘A journey through the Universe’. A host of astronomy VIPs will be delivering talks throughout the weekend on a range of subjects including ‘The Universe’ by Prof Alec Boksenberg from the University of Cambridge; ‘Black holes and high energy astrophysics’ by Prof Peter Thomas from the University of Sussex; and ‘At the edge: how leaving the Solar System can tell us more about the Sun’ by Dr Lucie Green of BBC Sky at Night fame.

If skies are clear, the evening sessions will prove to be a treat for astronomy enthusiasts and novices alike. September’s ‘supermoon’ will take centre stage – our nearest natural satellite will appear slightly larger than usual due to coming extra close to Earth in its orbital passage - a state known as ‘perigee full Moon’. Three of the giant RGO telescopes will be swung into action, together with the science centre’s 16-inch Meade reflector (weather permitting). There will also be a myriad of smaller scopes set up across the site, so there’ll be plenty of opportunities to be wowed by the wonders of the night sky.

To find out more, visit the-observatory.org.

 

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