Hard to believe that only last week I was in London for AstroFest 2013! It’s been a loooong week.
London is a harsh mistress. Whilst I love walking the city, enjoying the night life, and finding yummy places to eat, the heavy congestion is draining. And there is so much noise!!
I do enjoy the ebb and flow, my odd little London love affair. I typically enjoy my time, but feel a sense of relief living in a smaller community. Maybe that’s from my upbringing.
This was a different experience though. It came as a surprise, I didn’t want to leave at all! I felt the visit was much too short. Kensington is absolutely lovely and very central. Hell, I even found a WHOLE FOODS! WOW! As a native Californian I have been missing carnitas and burritos. Tears of happiness streamed down my face as I engorged myself with fish tacos and soft taco carnitas. 😀
But enough about me, let’s talk geek! AstroFest is truly a rockstar affair now; it’s absolutely brilliant! As a first time visitor the visit did overwhelm the senses. Sooo much to see, sooo much to do! I’m glad it’s spread into two days.
Here’s a condensed recap of the weekend!
VARIETY OF ASTRONOMY VENDORS
Walking around, I felt at home among my other nerdy peers. Astronomy NOW magazine had a fabulous booth set up: new issues, new books, and back issues for a few quid. An energetic lady at the University of Central Lancashire introduced me to distance learning astronomy courses. I purchased a few astrobiology books from Cambridge University Press, chatted with a few science editors. And, of course, I marveled at the expansive variety of telescopes for novice and advanced explorers. Truly, there was something for everyone to enjoy – child to silver-haired academic.
VARIETY OF LECTURE CONTENT
I purchased tickets to all the events so we had quite the itinerary to sort through. I did miss a couple of lectures but for the most part I sat through almost all! NASA engineers discussed their lives as scientists living 14,000 feet above sea level at remote telescopes in Maui. Academics captured pictures of super massive stars, gave a preview of, what they believe, black holes sound like when colliding, and even explained plate tectonics on Mars in comparison to Earth!
It’s NERDY, but it was absolutely fascinating. Great subject variety! My brain totally hurt afterwards, haha!
EXCELLENT CENTRAL LOCATION
London may drive me crazy, but Kensington is absolutely brilliant. It was close to the tube line, and I loved shopping on the High Street for clothes. Much better variety of clothing instead of in Leamington. There was also a HUUUUGE Tescos within walking distance. We stopped there for breakfast and brought lunch with us into the convention.
SPEAKERS! SOME GREAT, SOME NOT SO GREAT
The only fault I found was with the speakers. Some, like Lucy Hawking, were natural, talented orators. Herself and a few others made some compelling lectures, with exciting content using videos and pictures.
Others … not so good. I can understand that the academics were quite busy, I get it, but speaking 45 minutes about galaxies in the ultraviolet to the public could be shown with pictures, not extensive graphs. Touch upon math, but keep it simple! Hopefully next year the academics will make some presentations a bit more visual and less wordy.
REMEMBERING PATRICK MOORE
AstroFest closed out with this session. It ended extremely well. Everyone wanted to see the LEGENDS, like Dr. Brian May, discuss his fondest memories of Patrick Moore and how he touched upon so many lives with his enthusiasm in astronomy. There wasn’t ONE SEAT left in the auditorium, it was jam-packed!! I hope they continue it each year, it’s a fantastic way to honor Patrick, as well as, end the conference on a light-hearted and FUN note.
Will I be attending Astrofest 2014? ABSOLUTELY!