Welcome to Astroblast 2008
What is Astroblast?
Astroblast is a one-day fun event featuring Space and Astronomy. Now in its third year it is coming to Bedford with an even bigger and better line-up that will delight children of all ages from 5 to 95.
Learn how rockets work, meet storm troopers and other aliens, find out how to choose and use a telescope, enjoy a planetarium show that will whisk you round the Universe, learn how your school can use telescopes in the Canary Islands, on Hawaii and in Australia.
There is something for everyone at Astroblast; it's aimed at children, parents, teachers and anyone whose horizon stretches beyond our planet.
We have an excellent line-up of speakers offering a varied programme of talks. Here are the times and titles to help you plan your day.
- Monica Grady - Strangers from Space: what meteorites can tell us about our Galaxy - 10:30 to 11:10
- Jon London - How to Build a Rocket Engine and Worry Your Friends - 11:20 to 12:00
- Lee Sproats - Telescopes of the Future - 13:00 to 13:40
- Mike Francies - Behind the Scenes at the Baikonur Cosmodrome - 13:50 to 14:30
- Andrew Lound - Saturn, Lord of the Rings - 14:40 to 15:55
Professor Monica Grady is one of the world's leading experts on Meteorites and currently holds the Chair of Planetary and Space Science at the Open University. Her previous appointment was as Curator of Meteorites at the Natural History Museum where she was often seen and heard in the media commenting on the latest meteorite story. In 2003 she gave the Royal Institution's Christmas Lectures and is very experienced in making science understandable for all age groups. Asteroid 4731 is named 'Monicagrady' in her honour.
Mike Francies is a world-champion in the art of flying radio-controlled rocket gliders. These are precision machines employing Formula 1 racing car technology to achieve the highest levels of performance. Not only does Mike travel the world taking part in competitions, he paid a recent visit to the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan where he was treated to a behind-the-scenes tour. He will be talking about this world-famous site from which the first satellite and the first man into space were launched. Mike and his colleagues from the Great Britain Rocketry Team will also be displaying the rockets they fly in competitions and explaining how to get started as a rocketeer. If conditions allow they may also fly some of their smaller rockets.
Jon London is a very popular speaker who is returning to Astroblast for the third year. His talk on rockets which includes firing a real rocket motor in the lecture room always goes down well. Jon makes his living by visiting schools to run science workshops so this is an ideal opportunity for teachers and parents to see what he has to offer.
Dr Lee Sproats has been an astronomy enthusiast since he was taken to see 'Star Wars' at the age of seven. He subsequently went on to study astronomy at University College London and to gain his Phd at the Mullard Space Science Laboratory. He currently works at Green Witch advising astronomers at all levels on how to choose equipment and get the most enjoyment from it. He is one of the most knowledgeable advisors in UK astronomy and deals with everyone from absolute beginners through to international research institutes. At Astroblast he will take a look into the future to describe the giant optical telescopes that are being planned and built.
Andrew Lound is a writer, broadcaster and lecturer who specialises in dramatic presentations to bring his subjects to life. At Astroblast he will be presenting an amazing show called 'Saturn, Lord of the Rings'. Be prepared to experience Saturn in a way you've never seen it before.
There will be several workshops running throuout the day. Some are at fixed times and others will run continuously. They will be held in the Science Block. Here are the times that have been set so far. Look for further information when you get to Astroblast.
- Nik Szymanek's imaging workshops - 11:30 and 13:50 - identical workshops each lasting approx 45 minutes - click here for further details
- Lee Sproats on choosing telescopes and binoculars - 11:30 and 13:50 - identical workshops each lasting approx 30 minutes
- Rocketry-based workshops
- Workshops for children run by the National Space Centre - details available at the NSC stand
Timings will be decided on the day because of their dependency on the weather. Look out for information at Astroblast.
These will run throughout the day at fixed times. See the Planetarium Page for details. Tickets will be on sale on the Green Witch stand. We recommend you purchase these as soon as possible. In previous years they have sold out quite quickly.
Astroblast is an idea that originated with staff at Green Witch, one of the country's leading astronomy retailers. We wanted to run an event that would encourage children, parents and teachers to take a more active interest in space and astronomy. Both are excellent ways of promoting science and engineering and we wanted to show how much fun they could be and how accessible they are. Wendy suggested the name and we took it from there.
The first Astroblast was held in 2006 in Cambridge and proved to be a great success. We repeated it in 2007 and it was even more successful. The venue we used was the Institute of Astronomy who were superb hosts, but they have the builders in carrying out a major extension so we're coming to Bedford this year where we plan to make Astroblast even bigger and better than before.
Bedford School and Bedford Astronomical Society (BAS) organised a very successful astronomy event in 2007 to mark BAS' 20th birthday. We are confident that with their help Astroblast 2008 will also be a huge success. Do come along and join us - you'll have a great day out.
Green Witch's 10th Birthday
Green Witch was born at midnight on Halloween 1998 so we will celebrate our 10th birthday at Astroblast 2008. We hope you can celebrate it with us.