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STARMUS III - Tuesday 28 June

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Tuesday 28 June 2016



Brian Schmidt of the Australian National University gave a good overview of the discoveries that lead to the notion of Dark matter and of Dark Energy, from Edwin Hubble’s observations to the discovery of an accelerating Universe. The latter was first proposed in two papers in 1998. Computer simulations of the evolution of the Universe and detailed analyses of the Cosmic Microwave Background radiation (CMB) are the resources to establish the ratio 5, 26 and 69% for a composition of “normal” matter, Dark matter and Dark energy. The CMB also shows that the Universe is almost perfectly flat.

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STARMUS III - Monday 27 June

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image3It was a great first day at STARMUS. The organiser Garik Israelian opened the festival emphasising how special this third STARMUS is going to be. Special first of all while the festival Tribute to Stephen Hawking – Beyond the Horizon is dedicated to the life’s work of Stephen Hawking, who is unique in the world (maybe in the Uni-(multi-)verse). In addition the more than one thousand delegates will be feasted not only to latest developments in astronomy, but to those in a range of related sciences. Raphael Robolo, director of the Institute of Astrophysics Tenerife – La Palma (CALP) and Raphael Alonso, president of Council of Tenerife also briefly spoke words of welcome.

Garik Israelian opens STARMUS 2016

Alan Ries, who received the 2011 Nobel Prize in physics opened the presentations with “Recalibrating the Universe for precision Cosmology””. Not too long ago cosmology wasn’t even an observational science, hence the title alone emphasises how far cosmology has come in a handful of decades. Ries explained the scanning technique applied to the Hubble Telescope observations that improves parallax distance measurements to some 25 micro-arcseconds. This greatly enhances the standard candles used in astronomy for distance measurements, having implications for distance estimates from kilo parsec all the way to Giga parsec. The latest value for the Hubble constant obtained is 73.2 +- 1.7 and the expansion of the Universe is presently some 8% faster than in the early Universe.

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STARMUS III - 2016. Introduction

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What is STARMUS?

Brian May, founding guitarist of the rock band Queen, completed his PhD dissertation in Astrophysics in 2007. His advisor was Garik Israelian, and as both of them are musicians as well as astronomers, they came up with the idea for STARMUS, a festival celebrating stars and music.

STARMUS aims at making astronomy, space sciences and the arts accessible to the general public, while bringing together the brightest minds in these areas.

The first STARMUS festival was held in Tenerife, Canary Islands in June 2011 with the theme “50 years of Man in Space”. The second festival was held in September 2014 at the same location with the theme “Beginnings: The Making of the Modern Cosmos”.


This year the third STARMUS III is being held on Tenerife and La Palma, Canary Islands from 27 June till 2 July 2016 with the theme: “Beyond the Horizon – Tribute to Stephen Hawking”.

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The World's First Dark Sky Island - The Isle of Sark

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Isle of Sark Nightscape

Photograph of the Milky Way over the avenue in Sark by Sue Daly

While researching a topic very close to my heart, namely the night sky and the importance of darkness, I discovered a remarkable destination which has great appeal to stargazers, nature lovers and tourists alike: the small Isle of Sark, in the Channel Islands.

Self governing Sark, has a population of around 550 people. It has no public street lighting or cars and the only form of transport is by bicycle, boat, tractor and foot. Aware of the benefits of preserving their precious night sky and protecting their natural environment, the community embarked on a mission to illuminate their island sensibly and sustainably. As a result, there is no light pollution so the view of the heavens is breathtakingly beautiful at night. It’s also no coincidence residents report low levels of crime and high levels of happiness in their community.

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Latest News

As real as it gets - Flying above Mars

mars flyover JF

Finnish filmmaker Jan Fröjdman transformes imagery from HiRISE, a camera aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, into a dynamic overhead view of the Red Planet.

Watch it here.


Great Overview New Horizons mission

alan stern copyMeet Dr. Alan Stern, the Principle Investigator and learn about NASA’s historic mission to Pluto and beyond. Live stream on 13 February 2017 (can be watched again) here.

Introduction to Astronomy restarts

IntroAstro copy

Highly recommended Ronen Plesser’s free course Introduction to Astronomy will now be offered at Duke University on their new platform Duke Extend. The new session of Introduction to Astronomy starts November 28, and you can learn more and register here.

This ten week course progresses outward from our own Earth into Solar system, Galaxy and Deep Space, to cover essentially everything in the Universe. Watch Ronen's introduction on YouTube here.

Visit Rosetta’s comet in amazing 3D.

Rosetta 3D copy

Rosetta spacecraft has impacted on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, ending its very successful mission. You can view the comet in this amazing interactive 3D visualisation here.
Find a description of the tool here.

Are we heading for a new Maunder Minimum?

2016 09 01 1472723838 9260456 Solar Cycle Prediction

Original image here.

We are coming out of the current sunspot cycle 24 which will end around 2019. The maximum of this cycle has yet again been well below that of the previous two cycles.

“Some studies show that sunspot magnetic field strengths […] are already close to the minimum needed to sustain sunspots on the solar surface”.

Read Dr. Sten Odenwald’s Blog here.

ESO Astronomy Camp

ann16031aStudents aged between 16 and 18 years old, can apply for participation in the 4th ESO Astronomy Camp. The camp will take place from 26 December 2016 to 1 January 2017 in Italy and it is organised by ESO and its Science Outreach Network, together with the science education event organiser Sterrenlab and OAVdA.

Click the link 4th ESO Astronomy for detailed information.

Teachers invited to join the STEAM Team

STEAMThe Planetary Society is developing a youth education program with the goal to help teachers educate and engage students around the world in Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, and the Arts.

The STEAM Team is an advisory network of educators from around the world who will help to create the most effective education program possible. We want to bring your educational expertise to bear on a widespread program to enhance STEAM education around the world.

By joining this team, you will become part of a global advisory council of educators. We will reach out to you for feedback on the educational resources we develop, and on the direction of our youth education program as a whole. We’ll send you surveys, questions, and opportunities to share your ideas.

Read more here

What happens at the edge of the Universe?

EdgeoftheUniversePBSWhat is at the edge of the Universe and what happens if we are trying to get there.
In this episode in the Space Time series by PBS Matt tries to answer this question in a scientific way.
Watch it here.

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