Starmus Festival planned for September!

Posted by David Eicher
on Thursday, January 30, 2014

Imagine a gathering where the greatest minds in space exploration, astronomy, cosmology, and planetary science get together for a week of incredible talks, sharing of information, and appreciation of the knowledge we have of space and the universe.

And imagine the event took place at one of the most beautiful places in the world, the Canary Islands, Spain, in the shadow of the world’s largest telescope, and involved making new friends and renewing old acquaintances. And imagine that not only the greatest scientists in the world were there, but also astronauts and rock stars. And imagine that a concert featuring Queen’s guitarist, singer, and songwriter Brian May topped the whole thing off.

Well, that’s the formula for the Starmus Festival. And it really happened in 2011. Plus, thanks to the vision of organizer Garik Israelian, an astronomer at the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands, it will happen again. Garik and his advisors — who include guitarist and astronomer May and Russian cosmonaut Alexei Leonov — are announcing the 2014 Starmus Fesitival!

Starmus 2014 will take place in the Canaries, at Tenerife and La Palma, September 22–27, 2014. I’m proud to say that Astronomy magazine is the exclusive media partner for the conference. This time the theme will be “Beginnings: The Making of the Modern Cosmos.”

Here’s complete information on Starmus.

The 10.4-meter Gran Telescopio Canarias, the largest telescope in the world, at La Palma, Canary Islands, site of the Starmus Festival.
I will be at the 2014 Starmus event and will be participating in a variety of ways — more to come on that later.

Also, I am writing and editing the book of Starmus 2011 proceedings and talks, titled STARMUS: 50 Years of Man in Space, with Garik Israelian and Brian May. It will be published this spring by Robin Rees at Canopus Books in London and will be available this summer and at the 2014 Starmus event. More on the book to come later.

I offer the entire press release below . . .


“Beginnings: the making of the modern cosmos”


Following on from the huge success of the first Starmus "50 years in space" festival in Tenerife in June 2011, which featured keynote presentations from internationally renowned astronauts, cosmonauts, and scientists such as Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, Jim Lovell, Alexei Leonov, Richard Dawkins, Kip Thorne, and George Smoot, we are very pleased to announce the second Starmus 2014 Festival, which will be taking place in Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain, from 22nd to 27th September 2014, to address astronomy, science, and the arts under the title “Beginnings: the making of the modern cosmos.”

-  The speakers will include Nobel Prize winners Robert W. Wilson and Sir Harold W. Kroto, the chemist and physicist, and eminent ethologist, zoologist, evolutionary theorist, and scientist Richard Dawkins.

- The event is driven by its developer Garik Israelian, an astrophysicist researcher IAC (Canary Islands Astrophysics Institute) and a scientific advisory board including Dr. Brian May, astrophysicist and guitarist for the legendary rock band Queen, and Alexei Leonov, the legendary Russian cosmonaut who made the first space walk in 1965. The Festival is supported by Gobierno de Canarias, Cabildo de Tenerife, International Astronomical Union, and Canary Islands Astrophysics Institute (IAC).

- An appointment to enjoy, learn, and share together with some of the brightest minds of our time under the Canary Island’s skies.


A portion of the 2011 round table discussion in the dome of the Gran Telescopio Canarias, with Brian May, Alexei Leonov, Neil Armstrong, Garik Israelian, Leslie Sage, Francisco Sanchez, and Richard Dawkins. // All featival images: Starmus/Max Alexander
An International Festival of international knowledge dedicated to the world of astronomy and science promoted by Garik Israelian, an astrophysicist researcher at the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands (IAC) and festival director.

This second edition will address the theme "Beginnings: the making of the modern cosmos” from a multidisciplinary point of view, and it has the support of the Government of Canarias and Cabildo of Tenerife and the collaboration of the Abama Golf & Spa Resort, managed by Ritz Carlton.

Enjoy the presence of a panel of guests including Nobel laureates, eminent scholars, and international figures from various fields of science, knowledge, and the arts.

Starmus 2014 will take place between 22 and 28 September 2014 on the islands of Tenerife (Canary Islands - Spain) and is intended for attendees to learn and share knowledge and experiences of astronomy, science, and the arts, whilst enjoying the skies and landscapes of the Canary Islands in the company of the greatest minds of our time.

The first edition of the festival "50 years in space: Poyekhali" was a heartfelt tribute to the pioneers of the space race with a central act, the “Tribute to Yuri Gagarin,” the first human to travel into space on 12 April 1961.

Brian May discusses astronomy with Neil Armstrong, Starmus Festival 2011.
We also had the immense privilege of having the presence, among others, of Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the Moon on July 21, 1969, in the last congress he attended in his life; and Alexei Leonov, the first human to perform a spacewalk on March 18, 1965. It also featured a cast of fellow astronauts and cosmonauts both in successive missions of Apollo and Soyuz spacecraft such as Viktor Gorbatko, Bill Anders (Apollo 8), Jim Lovell (Apollo 13), and the legendary ”Buzz “ Aldrin, pilot of Apollo 11, the first manned lunar landing in history, and Charlie Duke (Apollo 16), the tenth man to walk on the lunar surface.

In the lectures, we enjoyed presentations from leading world figures in science such as the eminent ethologist, zoologist, evolutionary theorist, and scientist Richard Dawkins; the Nobel Prize winning molecular biologist Jack Szostak; the Nobel physicist and astronomer George F. Smoot; theoretical physicist Kip Thorne, one of the world's leading experts on the astrophysical applications of the Theory of General Relativity; and Brian May, astrophysicist and guitarist of the rock band Queen.

Another highlight was the performance of the pioneering ambient and space rock band  Tangerine Dream with their characteristic "cosmic" sound, who were joined by Brian May on stage to perform together.

This second edition of the festival presents an even more ambitious programme and is seeking even greater international coverage. This revolves around five areas of distinct activities:

1)    Conferences
Caltech's Kip Thorne lectures to the audience on black holes, Starmus Festival 2011.
They are the highlight and will be held on the premises of the Abama Golf and Spa Resort, which is managed by the Ritz Carlton (Tenerife) chain. A panel of international luminaries from different fields of science and the arts will sit and discuss the central theme of this year’s event: “Beginnings: the making of the modern cosmos.”

We have the great pleasure to present the first three speakers already confirmed for Starmus 2014 to date:

a)    Richard Dawkins (England) is a famous ethologist, zoologist, evolutionary theorist, and writer. He is the author of The Selfish Gene, published in 1976, work that popularized the evolutionary vision focused on genes, and which introduced the meme and memetic terms, "The Extended Phenotype", which states that the phenotypic effects are not limited to the body of a body but can stretch in the environment, and The God Delusion, which sold more than 2,000,000 copies. The book held the belief in a supernatural creator, and that belief in a personal God is a kind of mirage, a false belief held tenaciously despite the strong evidence against. In 2005, the magazine Discover referred to him as “Darwin's rottweiler”.

b)    Sir Harold W. Kroto (USA) is a chemist and university professor who won the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1996 for his research on a new form of geometrical crystallization of carbon from the chemical synthesis of fullerenes. These structures are used in the manufacture of high temperature resistant materials and even as substitutes for silicon in the chip due to their exceptional stability.

In 1995, he launched the Vega Science Trust to create videos with quality scientists broadcasts for broadcast on televison. Today, he is very involved in the Geoset (Global Educational Outreach for Science, Engineering, and Technology) programme that exploits the creative dynamics revolutionary Internet to improve the general level of scientific compression and raise awareness about the importance of science worldwide.

c) Robert W. Wilson (USA) is a physicist who won the Nobel Prize in 1978 for his discovery in 1964 of the cosmic microwave background (CMB), confirming assumptions made by the theory of the Big Bang.

Buzz Aldrin greets Alexei Leonov at the Starmus Festival 2011.
In 1970, he discovered, along with his team, many interstellar molecules including carbon monoxide.

As director of Radio Physics Research Department of Bell Institute, astronomical techniques he used to measure the Earth-space propagation of some infrared wavelengths had further applications in wireless and optical communications. He has been a member of the U.S. National Academy of Science since 1979.

The other speakers will be announced throughout 2014 until two months before the event.

2)    108
A select group of astronomers, physicists, and engineers will sit inside the dome of the Gran Telescope Canarias Roque de Los Muchachos on the island of La Palma to present, analyze, and discuss the latest developments in their respective fields.

Its duration, 108 is the same time as the first space trip that Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin took aboard Vostok 1 on 12 April 1961.

3)    Teide Star Party
A magical evening of stargazing at one of the clearest skies in the world in the crater (2,000 meters above sea level) at the foot of Mount Teide. Speakers and audience share the experience of seeing the cosmos together outdoors sharing knowledge and experiences.

This will be an enriching experience that will give attendees the opportunity to exchange their views with real geniuses of science.

4)    Astrophotography International Contest
The Sonic Universe Concert at Starmus 2011, with Brian May, Edgar Froese, and Tangerine Dream.
Capturing the elusive beauty of the night sky with their cameras, and participating to win a unique and exclusive prize — an hour of observation in the GTC (Roque de Los Muchachos, La Palma), the world's largest optical telescope, as well as free admission to the festival.

5)    Sonic Universe
A concert by a world class musician/rock band who will perform the music of the stars and the sounds of the cosmos.


 Tel: 922 535344 / 618 868773 (Mª Belén Febles)


National press
Tel: 640206701 (Joaquín Robles) / 649391989 (Carolina Rodríguez)

International press
Tel UK: 0207 993 8338 Int : 00 44 207 993 8338 (Ashley Oulton)
Tel Spain: 00 34 664 806 726


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