Press release: Starmus takes off, the most ambitious all-star science festival

Posted by David Eicher
on Thursday, July 10, 2014

Credit: Starmus Festival
•    The Starmus Festival announces a supreme lineup featuring the biggest names in science today, including Stephen Hawking, Brian May, and Richard Dawkins
•    The Canary Islands is the chosen setting for the only festival in the world that brings together Nobel Prize winners, astronauts, astrophysicists, biologists, and anthropologists at the same event
•    The Canary Islands confirms its place as the location of choice for astrophysicists worldwide thanks to its advantageous geographical location and the astrophysical observation and research conducted there
•    Astrophotography and music are key to the festival, including live performances from Rick Wakeman and Brian May
Madrid, July 9, 2014: The second edition of the Starmus Festival is set to be one of the most significant scientific events of 2014. After revealing its final program today, the Canary Islands will host one of the world’s largest and most important gatherings of astrophysicists.

An initiative started by Garik Israelian, an astrophysicist from the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands, and in collaboration with the Canary Islands government and Tenerife´s local government, the first festival edition featured Neil Armstrong, who participated in a highly acclaimed roundtable discussion.

Today, the final program for the event confirms that for five days in September, the Canary Islands will be the focus of the international scientific community’s attention. Highly prestigious international scientists, specializing in physics, anthropology, biology, and astrophysics will be in attendance. A stellar lineup featuring theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, astronauts Walt Cunningham and Charlie Duke, from the Apollo 7 and Apollo 16 missions, respectively, and the famous musician and astrophysicist Brian May ensures that this edition’s cast is peerless.

Under the heading “Beginnings: The Making Of A Modern Cosmos,” a series of scientific presentations will be supported by music from stars including Brian May and Rick Wakeman. As a result, the combination of science, art, and music makes this a one-of-a-kind event in which amateur astronomers, music fans and science buffs, can connect with each other and the stars.

Director of Starmus, Garik Israelian, comments, “This second edition surpasses all of the original ambitions of the first. Science and music fans will find this edition incredibly engaging as we tackle the big astrophysical topics of the moment in a way which is accessible to the public. This has been one of the most important goals for the Starmus Festival 2014 — to encourage astronomy fans to join us and make the most of a unique opportunity to meet world-renowned experts. Bringing these names together in the Canary Islands, one of the world’s best settings for astronomy, makes this festival even more special.”

Among the activities prepared for speakers and attendees include the star party on September 24, a unique night focused on viewing the Canary Islands’ extraordinary skies from the Tenerife Observatory. Music will take center stage on the evening of September 26 with a Sonic Universe concert by Rick Wakeman, featuring special guest Brian May, who as well as being an astrophysicist is also one of the most influential guitarists in the history of music.

Another of the most exciting activities will be a roundtable discussion to take place inside the GTC Roque de los Muchachos Observatory Dome, featuring the largest telescope in the world on the island of La Palma.

Tenerife: a unique setting for a unique event
An event like this could not be held anywhere. The Starmus Festival required a setting that is inextricably linked to the stars and enjoys a rich history and tradition in stargazing — needs met by the skies of the Canary Islands, which are protected from environmental light pollution and set in a highly advantageous latitudinal position. The Tenerife observatories on Teide and the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory in La Palma are also two key strategic points in the study of the stars worldwide.

The Canary Island’s position as an important astronomical location is reinforced further by Brian May’s relationship with the region, which dates back to the 1970s. May wrote his thesis on the reflection of light from interplanetary dust in the solar system in the Teide Observatory on Tenerife, which he shelved while a little-known band called Queen became popular, until completing it in 2007 with the support of Starmus Director Garik Israelian.

All speakers will tackle big topics from their different areas of expertise, offering a unique array of views. “Tentative taxonomy of extraterrestrial life” by Richard Dawkins; “Travelling in space and time with the James Webb Space Telescope” by John Mather; “The dark side of the Moon” by Charlie Duke; “Why didn’t the Soviet Union send a man to the Moon?” by Alexei Leonov and “Seeing space in 3-D” by Brian May are just some of highlights.

In addition, as part of the conference panel, Stephen Hawking will speak on two occasions covering: “The origin of the universe,” which will take place on the second day of the festival, and “Black Holes,” which he will give on the last day as a spectacular finale to the festival.

With the great and the good of science confirmed, Starmus today starts its countdown to September. The organizers also will reveal more surprises included in the world’s most ambitious astronomy event in the coming weeks.

Any science, astronomy, and music fans who wish to register for tickets to this celestial shindig can register here: and find further details on a 15% flight discount for Starmus attendees with Iberia.

More information at

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