Astrofest Adventures (the experience)

In the meantime Brian (May) sat next to me; we whispered hi and watched Simon (Singh) fry a gherkin together. We also enjoyed Katie Melua’s song with Simon’s lyrics to her ‘Nine Million Bicycles’. Only at Astrofest. © Max Alexander.

Part of the Astrofest Experience is not going home without at least one or two books – signed by the authors of said books. I love the fact you get a chance to talk to the writers and always have something to read on the way back. I have quite a collection by now actually. After the morning session of talks had ended, Brian joined Patrick (Moore) in ‘the blue room’ for their signing session of Bang and of the 40 Years of Queen books. With my lack of sense of direction, I forgot how we got in that room previous years, without seemingly jumping the queue, so Inf and I basically did just follow the long line of people to ask Robin what time would be best to come back and catch up a bit. Which we did after lunch.


Bri and I chatting. © Graham Bowes.

Most of the masses had gone by then, so our timing was good. I finally gave Brian a copy of the comic – we’re all in there and Chris had never shown him! I also told him about our latest (Hubble) results and while we were there, we got signed copies of the books too of course. Bri is still raising awareness for the Save Me campaign, which I support wholeheartedly. And he told me I’m going to be in his new book! I already knew he was working on this new project, with Chris, Patrick and Robin, but now I’m allowed to mention it’s going to be out next year and it’s called: The Cosmic Tourist. It shows you ‘must see’ places in the universe and Hanny’s Voorwerp is one of them! Needless to say I’m very much looking forward to this book and I’ll mention it as soon as it’s out. It wasn’t until later though that I thought back of the girl who once came to me after one of my first lectures, asking how cool it is to know my name is going to be in science books and I had just smiled…


Jon (Culshaw), on my right, and Pete (Lawrence), missing in this picture, said they loved my object, haha! © Graham Bowes.

Anyway. We also said hi to Patrick, who recently celebrated his 89th birthday and deserves a great deal of respect for still taking the trouble of signing all those books. The brilliant Pete Lawrence was there as well and he introduced me to Jon Culshaw (whom – I’m embarrassed to say – I had not recognised from his previous appearances on The Sky At Night, even though I thought he was great). Pete was joking around, trying to get Jon to say to me “oh I love your object”. I promised this lovely chap I’d make that line the caption under our picture. So good fun was had. We shared some more hugs and laughs, when Patrick went home and Brian asked if I felt like going for a walk around. He’d take care of me, or I could take care of him. In any case, we went for the whole Astrofest experience, visiting the stands as well. There were many people I’d promised to ‘come and say hi’ to and I ended up doing an interview for The Naked Scientists as well, which is already available for download.


Brian and I at the start of our ‘tour’, right behind Sir Patrick. © Max Alexander.


Steve (from Astronomy Now) and Brian talking at the Astronomy Now stand. © Max Alexander.


Ben (from The Naked Scientists) at work. © Max Alexander.

And then the happenings at AstroFest ’12 were pretty much a fact. We’d found a table upstairs, where I sighed to my friends how much I’m already looking forward to next year. There was still an official tweet-up at the pub waiting for us though and we’d booked dinner at the lovely Italian from a few years before too. So we said bye to the lovely Tom at the front desk and we headed for the Devonshire Arms. Thus more pictures to come still. I’ll conclude this with a few more of my favourites from the official Astrofest photographer though…


Dr. Stu Clark’s talk, that I unfortunately missed. (Great to finally meet you on Saturday though!) © Max Alexander.


This is Astrofest for you too! (Visitors at a stand). © Max Alexander.


Ian (who invited me), chairing the next session. © Graham Bowes.


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