A short time ago, Brian May asked me to work on a book with him and friend Garik Israelian, an amazing Armenian-Spanish astronomer who works on supernovae, black holes, and other fun stuff. You probably know Brian as the legendary guitarist of the rock group Queen and also a Ph.D. astrophysicist and member of Astronomy magazine’s Editorial Advisory Board.
This is going to be a really exciting book, published by the talented Robin Rees of Canopus Books in London, and we’re aiming to have the book out by next summer. It is a huge resource book of material on space exploration, astronomy, and the meaning of existence (!) that resulted from the Starmus Festival, a great event held in June 2011 in the Canary Islands.
Two years ago, Garik organized this event to commemorate the 50th anniversary of manned spaceflight. The five-day conference brought together numerous legends in space exploration and was centered on honoring Yuri Gagarin, the first human in space. Among the speakers were Buzz Aldrin, Bill Anders, Neil Armstrong, Yuri Baturin, Charlie Duke, Victor Gorbatko, Alexei Leonov, Jim Lovell, Claude Nicollier, and Sergey Zhukov.
But the talks weren’t limited to space exploration — they also included a broader view of civilization on Earth, cosmology, life in the cosmos, worlds in the galaxy, and our relationship to the rest of the universe far down the road. Speakers also included great minds in many related areas, including Adam Burrows, Richard Dawkins, Rich Goldman, Garik Israelian, Brian May, Michel Mayor, Leslie Sage, Joseph Silk, George Smoot, Sami Solanki, Jack Szostak, Jill Tarter, Kip Thorne, and Robert Williams.
Starmus also included some amazing fun when Brian joined Tangerine Dream for a Sonic Universe Concert, producing a festive night of rock and roll.
This book will consist of the incredible talks and presentations given by many of the world’s most celebrated astronauts and cosmonauts, as well as important discussions of the origins of life, evolution and exobiology, extrasolar planets, supernovae, black holes, the Big Bang, how astronomy has changed humanity, the ethical questions of whether we should deeply explore space, and much more. The book will be published in honor of Yuri Gagarin and also in honor of Neil Armstrong, who we lost last year.
It is going to be quite a volume, and we’ll hope to have it available at the 2014 Starmus Festival, slated for September 22–28, at Tenerife and La Palma in the Canary Islands. I will be there and will enjoy participating in the event and covering it for Astronomy magazine!