Well, to those of you who heard about Starmus 2014 at IPS 2014 and wished to go, it was indeed an amazing astronomy/music festival.
I decided at the last minute to attend on the VIP package (expensive) and did the Brisbane-Sydney-Dubai-Heathrow/Gatwick-Tenerife (Canary Islands) in around 48 hours. My return last week was less successful and took nearly 70 hours after flying Tenerife to Madrid to Dubai, I misread the boarding pass departure time from Dubai for the boarding time (no announcements in the lounge) and missed my packed A380 flight to Sydney from Dubai – requiring the off-loading of my suitcase, a real financial sting and over a day’s wait for the only available seat via Perth to Brisbane. I’d never missed a flight in some 40 years of international air travel, except at the fault of an airline.
The conference hotel for Starmus was The Ritz-Carlton Abama – an amazing sprawling complex at Tenerife. There was also a visit to the world’s largest optical telescope, the 10.4m, 36-segment Gran Telescopio Canarias (GTC) on La Palma.
The first Starmus was in 2011 and featured Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Jim Lovell, among many others – but the attendance was only around 60 delegates.
This latest one skyrocketed to, I think, over 700 when word got out about Stephen Hawking being the highlight, along with Alexei Leonov (the first person to walk in space), Apollo astronauts, Richard Dawkins, Robert Wilson, etc. As well as entertainers Brian May (also an astrophysicist) and Rick Wakeman who did an incredible two-performance late at night with hardly a pause. Some of the events required other venues and attendances of around 1,200. Plenty of European media as well.
It was good to meet up with our IPS President Thomas Kraupe throughout the week and Glenn Smith from Sky-Skan’s European office.
Rather than go into details, here is a direct link to my Facebook album, which should work even for those of you who do not use Facebook. It’s not complete, but will give you some of the visual flavour of the week.
Image: Musician/astrophysicist Brian May, Greek composer Alexandros Hahalis, Mark Rigby, Greek Cypriot soprano Katerina Mina and Robert Woodrow Wilson, co-discoverer of the cosmic background radiation.
— Mark Rigby