European astrofest 2023

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European AstroFest 2023 was a celebration of astronomy and space exploration, with thousands of people attending the conference and exhibition.

European AstroFest brought the Universe to London on 3–4 February 2023 with a stellar line-up of speakers, dozens of exhibitors and thousands of attendees all converging on Kensington Conference and Events Centre.

Old and new faces were abound. Brian May is practically a regular at European AstroFest now, and he attended on the Saturday to reveal clips from a forthcoming documentary about Patrick Moore and the 2004 transit of Venus, as well as to sign books (and presumably records!) with a long queue stretching down the hallway at the front of the building. 

Allan Chapman, one of the conference’s most prolific speakers, sat down for a ‘fireside chat’ with conference chair Lucie Green, regaling the audience with his thoughts on who history’s greatest astronomers are. As a gesture of appreciation for everything Allan has done for European AstroFest and Astronomy Now, publisher Steven Young presented him on stage with the Astronomy Now lifetime achievement award.

Brian and Allan were joined by some veteran (I hope they don’t mind us calling them that!) astronomers in the form of Richard Ellis, Stephen Smartt and Michele Dougherty, back for repeat appearances as they talked about their respective fields (galaxies, supernovae and the JUICE mission to Jupiter). 

Then there were new faces: Olivia Smedley from Goonhilly, talking about the work of the radio dishes at Cornwall’s revitalised Earth station; Emma Curtis-Lake discussing what the JWST is showing us about the early Universe; Sabina Raducan bringing us up to date on the DART mission and its follow-up, Hera; Miho Janvier showing what Solar Orbiter has been finding on the Sun; and Tony Padilla musing on the mysteries of cosmic expansion. 

The conference talks were rounded off by Will Gator on lunar sketching, Michael Perryman on the Gaia mission, Mark McCaughrean getting an extended session to show off the first images from JWST, Abigail Beall on urban astronomy, and Geraint Jones on the forthcoming Comet Intercepter mission. 

Added to all this were three floors of exhibits and dealer stands, and the chance for attendees to catch up with old friends they may not have seen in three years, and European AstroFest 2023 was a huge success. Now we look forward to the next event, which will be back at Kensington on 2–3 February 2024.

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