Report from Astrofest 2017

Astrofest 2017 was held this year at Kensington Town Hall, just off Kensington High Street, London.

I attended with Ed Mann from RAG and another friend from London, Joseph.

You can view our review of the event in our 15 minute video – go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yynpp6Hx0w4

The photo below shows me (left) with Jon Curshaw, impressionist and friend of the late Sir Patrick Moore (right):

Below is a photo of Ed Mann with an eyepiece he purchased at the show:

I also met this chap in passing (Tim Peake):

Astrofest 2017 was held just off Kensington High Street in London 10-11 February. 400 people crowded into the lecture theatre for a spectacular program of 16 lectures covering exoplanets, rovers, history and characters in astronomy. The speakers were brilliant – this year animations using multiple images of astronomical phenomena taken over many years by large telescopes stood out for me – demonstrated clearly that our universe is a dynamic changing place. Some great reviews of science from major missions were given by people central to those programs – Cassini and Voyager stood out for me here together with other missions in other talks. Probes planned for the future, particularly those from ESA, were discussed, as was the failure of the Schiaparelli EDM lander, the recent crashed ESA Mars probe. A talk on ExoMars was a good example of this. There were also talks on current state of knowledge of solar system and search for alien life, and on Charles Messier and why he was called the Ferret of Comets by the King of France.
I was accompanied at the conference by Ed Mann from RAG and by Joseph Tjon, friend from London, who meets up with every year I come down to London in February for Astrofest and has eventually decided he wants to find out what all the fuss is about this astronomy stuff! Given that he is now talking about buying a Dobsonian telescope, it must have been a good experience.
The exhibition was not as good as in previous years. Very few bargains and generally less exhibitors than in the past. Tables seemed to have less kit on show and there did not seem to be a theme – in past exhibitors have emphasised mounts or refractors or cameras or solar scopes but not this year. Ed did manage to buy himself an eyepiece he wanted to suit his needs and budget after extensive searching and I bought a second hand book. Otherwise nothing we wanted to buy….although perhaps that is because we have everything we need.
This year I stayed at Kensington Hotel and Spa – now called Holiday Inn – very convenient – just around corner. I think I will stay there again next year.
I also met up with interesting group of Norwegiand who have come over to London specifically for the show – we forget how lucky we are in UK to have access to such things! It also gave me. chance to ask them about observing in very cold environments. I was sad to find out they don’t do much of it!! Don’t blame them – minus 10+ degrees C does seem a bit much to be standing around outside at night.

Andy