Talk about star power. World-renowned theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking and Brian May of Queen, who holds the rare distinction of being both a rocker and an astrophysicist, are among the celebrities throwing their weight behind Starmus III, a unique Tenerife-based festival devoted to science, art and music.
The pair appeared at London’s Royal Astronomical Society, alongside the Tenerife Island Government’s President Carlos Alonso and festival founder, astrophysicist Garik Israelian, to promote the next Starmus. It will be held on June 27-July 2, 2016, encompassing a stargazing party at Tenerife’s Teide National Park, a round-table discussion at the GTC Roque de los Muchachos Observatory Dome on La Palma, an astrophotography competition and a live concert.
“We want to inspire people the way Stephen Hawking has,” explained Israelian, who announced that the 2016 festival will be a tribute to Hawking. The Cambridge-educated cosmologist was the keynote speaker at last year’s event, while US astronaut Neil Armstrong spoke at the inaugural Starmus in 2011.
“Usually, we see kids inspired by football players, but we’ve had kids looking at physicist John Ellis (a previous guest speaker) like he was Jesus Christ,” Israelian laughed. “People have actually decided to become astronomers and scientists after the conference.”
As Israelian introduced his guests, even he seemed a little, yes, star-struck. “I had Brian May’s poster on my wall when I was a teenager, but I didn’t know he was an astrophysicist,” he admitted. “People like him and Stephen Hawking were legends for me.”
May, who will perform and speak at Starmus III, emphasized that the conference is about bringing lofty-seeming subjects down to earth. “Everyone is coming to lecture to normal people,” he said. “It’s accessible to all.”
In addition to May and Hawking, next year’s constellation of speakers will also include astronaut Chris Hadfield, the first Canadian Commander of the International Space Station 2015, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, who was commissioned by President Bush to serve on a variety of aerospace missions, and astrophysicist Kip Thorne, who was the scientific consultant and an executive producer on the 2014 film Interstellar.
“Come and join us,” May said. “It will be the most amazing experience of your life—and you never know who you might find yourself sitting down to breakfast with.”
Starmus III registration begins on July 1, 2015. For a complete list of guest speakers and more details, www.starmus.com.
For information about Tenerife, visit www.webtenerife.co.uk.