It’s our highlight of the season: European AstroFest. This year we’d go for the sixth time, so It’s been like that for five (!) years now. ‘We’ being the ever-growing group of friends who started out as an online community of astronomy enthusiast a.k.a. Galaxy Zooites. This tradition began with home-made badges, so we’d recognise each other. But after having spoken at the event last year, I now hear people say ‘she’s an AstroFest regular’ when I walk by. (Or even better, they say hi because they liked my talk). But I wasn’t doing anything official this time, I was merely enjoying the weekend…
Learning from the other speakers, wandering around the stalls and catching up with fellow Zooites, twitter pals and other astro-buddies. With there also being pre-dinners and after-parties, it’s always great fun and I thought I’d share a few snapshots sent to me of these moments. Most of them are Graham Bowes’, but you should also check the organisers’ Facebook page for the photos from the official AstroFest photographer; the brilliant Max Alexander. Below you can see us gals in that Italian in which we ended up singing after dessert again.
It’s Els from Belgium, yours truly, Paola from Italy and London-based Julianne in one picture and in the other I’m sitting next to Annie and Rona (who, we concluded, should be a double act). In case you’re wondering (I was asked) what I did to my hair: nothing. I just had it plaited the day before. As Todd was counting compliments I received, I guess I really should not brush my hair more often. Julianne thought I looked like a mermaid and well, since I used to want to be one, that was nice. To keep this balanced, Rona (fountain of knowledge) advised me to start doing anti-aging crème NOW.
At these gatherings, people frequently get up to hug everybody, without leaving the party or anything. I often thought we may be doing this because we can’t meet every other weekend, but since we went out for dinner on the Friday evening (even though I had come in later, with the train), on the Saturday evening, and we spend the whole of Sunday in a pub together, I think this is just what we do. We also made wineglasses sing and watched the rugby game together (and sang God save the Queen ourselves) until we had seen the tides change again.
It’s often also a get-together of old friends and so I found myself sitting next to Edd again, laughing about silly things I can’t recall, like we used to. The light on my face reveals the iPad in my lap, as we were messaging each other, and others in the audience, via tweets (I did say we were being silly). The other gentleman is Geoff, who let me use his ‘gezellige’ guestroom until I had to head back on Monday (but not after we visited Covent Garden after all). Finally, this last picture is of me and Mary, who wrote an excellent account of this year’s conference. From me you’ll just get a few more pictures.. soon…!