UCL News


Festival of the Planets comes to London

19 August 2013

From 8-13, September hundreds of astronomers from all over the world will arrive in the capital, bringing with them a huge variety of different public events to get Londoners involved in astronomy.

Robotics hands-on

Events will include organised stargazing in Regent's Park, a space-themed variety performance, a science fiction film night, exhibitions, art installations and public talks.

Astronomers and space explorers will be on hand to meet the public, and some of them will even be doing some space-busking!

The Festival of the Planets runs alongside the European Planetary Science Congress (EPSC), which is the largest meeting in Europe dedicated to planetary science. EPSC 2013 is hosted by UCL and it is the first time that EPSC will have been held in the UK.

The Festival of the Planets has been organised in collaboration with partners including the British Interplanetary Society, the Baker Street Irregular Astronomers, the Natural History Museum and the Royal Society.

And now several of London's foreign embassies are getting involved, sending their scientific attachés to meet delegates to EPSC 2013, or organising events at their own premises.

The Day the Earth Caught Fire - science fiction film night

Join science and science-fiction experts to discover the fact and fiction behind the classic film The Day the Earth Caught Fire.

Simultaneous atomic bomb tests by the USA and the Soviet Union knock the Earth from its orbit and send it spiralling toward the Sun. The Day the Earth Caught Fire is a British science fiction disaster film starring Edward Judd, Leo McKern and Janet Munro. It was directed by Val Guest and released in 1961. Film rating: Certificate 15

The film night includes a panel discussion with:

  • Dr Marek Kukula (Royal Observatory Greenwich)
  • Dr Louisa Preston (Open University)
  • Martin Archer (Imperial College London)
  • Paul Cornell (Doctor Who writer)

Location: Bloomsbury Theatre, 15 Gordon Street, London, WC1H 0AH

Date: Tue 10th September 7.45 (doors 7pm)

Tickets: £5 (booking fee £2.50 per transaction). Book here

Space Showoff

Space Showoff is an anarchic space-themed cabaret night. Join delegates from the European Planetary Science Congress, comedians and performers for a night that'll be funny, educational and stuffed to the brim with space-y goodness.

Confirmed acts include space comedian Helen Keen, satellite builder Maggie Aderin-Pocock, and planetary geologist Peter Grindrod, all MCed by UCL's Steve Cross.

All ticket money will be donated to the Lightyear Foundation, who take science to schoolchildren across the world who might otherwise not get a chance to take part. http://www.lightyearfoundation.org/

Location: Bloomsbury Theatre, 15 Gordon Street, London WC1H 0AH

Date: Thursday 12 September 7.30pm

Tickets: £10 or £7 concessions. Book here

European Planetary Science Congress Exhibition

See models of the latest missions, try hands-on robotics activities, find out how comets are made, experience our science-buskers and get to meet some of Europe's leading space explorers.

Location: Exhibition Marquee, UCL Quad, University College London, Gower Street London WC1E 6BT

Date: Tuesday 10 September, 10am-6pm, and Thursday 12 September, 10am-6pm

Tickets: Free

Another way of seeing: Contemporary Art responds to planetary science

This exhibition will show work from seven contemporary artists whose work has been inspired by planetary science. The exhibition is on during September and has been scheduled to overlap with the EPSC2013 event at UCL.

The artists are: Paul Magee, Andy Charalambous, Rose Pickles with Laura Franklin working together, Nathan Cohen and Simson&Volley. The exhibition is being curated by Andy Charalambous, who is an artist in residence at UCL.

Location: UCL

Date: 8-30 September

Tickets: Free

10 miles of Mars - exhibition

This exhibition will showcase a beautiful planetary image at an unprecedented scale. Measuring approximately 3 x 40 m, the exhibition will be a very recent image of the surface of Mars, which reflects the cross-disciplinary research in planetary science conducted at the Centre for Planetary Sciences at UCL/Birkbeck. Up close, the image will challenge with an array of bizarre textures and colours; from further afield, the image will show an ethereal visage of an alien, yet also strangely familiar, world.

Location: North Cloisters, UCL, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT

Date: 8 September-13 December 2013

Tickets: Free

Observing night in Regent's Park

Public observing in Regent's Park, hosted by the British Astronomical Association and the Baker Street Irregular Astronomers. View the Moon, the planet Neptune, and deep-space objects through a variety of telescopes under the guidance of expert astronomers. Advice on astronomical equipment also available.

Location: The Hub, Regent's Park, London NW1 4RU.

Date: Wednesday 11 September (or Tuesday 10 September or Thursday 12 September, if the weather forecast for Wednesday is poor), 6:30pm-10pm.

Tickets: Free. Final decision on the date will be made on Monday 10 September according to the weather forecast, and will be announced on this website.

Talk: Curiosity - one year on

On 6 August 2012, Curiosity, the newest Mars rover, landed on the red planet. Armed with an on-board laboratory of 10 instruments, including a rock drill and laser, Curiosity's mission is to uncover any evidence of ancient life. Many of the past missions to Mars have brought back tantalising discoveries about the history of our neighbouring planet but never before has a rover attempted to perform experiments live on the surface. Join us as we find out more about this incredible challenge and uncover what Curiosity has discovered so far. Speaker: Natasha Stephen

Location: Attenborough Studio, Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD

Date: Saturday 8 September, 12:30pm-1pm and 2:30pm-3pm

Details here

Public Lecture: JUpiter ICy Moon Explorer (JUICE) - the first ESA Cosmic Vision Mission

Athena Coustenis gives an overview of the Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (JUICE) mission selected by ESA as the first large mission within the Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 plan, is being developed to address questions regarding the Jupiter system and its satellites, with a focus on the largest moon, Ganymede.

Location: British Interplanetary Society, 27-29 South Lambeth Road, Vauxhall, London SW8 1SZ

Date: Thursday 12 September, 7pm-8:30pm

Tickets: Free for members of the British Interplanetary Society. £10 non members. Book here

Café Scientifique: How are the giant planets protecting us?

Jupiter is more than 600 million kilometres away from us - how has it helped our planet to evolve safely? What are the space environments surrounding the giant planets like? Why are these planets important in the history of our solar system? Discover the surprising nature of the space surrounding giant planets and how this helps protect both them and planet Earth.

Dr Christopher Arridge is a Royal Society University Research Fellow at the UCL Mullard Space Science Laboratory.

Location: The Royal Society, 6-9 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AG

Date: 23 September 6:30pm-8pm

Tickets: Free

Origin of the moon

Despite widespread acceptance of the giant impact hypothesis for lunar origin, our understanding continues to be challenged by remarkable new geochemical data, improved simulations and theory and spacecraft exploration. This will be a timely consideration of our current understanding, how this relates to our Earth and planetary systems and an opportunity to identify the directions of future research.

This event is intended for researchers in relevant fields, but is also open to the wider public. It is free to attend. There are a limited number of places and registration is essential.

Location: The Royal Society, 6-9 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AG

Date: 9am on Monday 23 September-5pm on Tuesday 24 September

Register here

Embassy events

The Italian scientific attaché, Professor Roberto Amendolia will chair the Farinella Prize lecture by Dr. Patrick Michel. The lecture is open to the public.

Location: Bloomsbury Theatre, 15 Gordon Street, London WC1H 0AH

Date: Monday 9 September, 12:45-1:25pm

The French scientific attaché, M. Cyrille van Effenterre will meet French delegates during the Poster Reception

Location: UCL Housman Room, North Cloisters, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT

Date: Tuesday 10 September, 6-7pm

The Spanish Embassy and the Society of Spanish Researchers in the UK (CERU) will host a round-table discussion and reception on "Planetary Science and its communication to society".

Location: Spanish Embassy, 39 Chesham Place, London SW1X 8SB

Date: Thursday 12 September, 6.30-9.00 pm


European Planetary Science Congress - Festival of the Planets