After the sell-out success of the inaugural “Star Stuff – Festival of the Cosmos” last year, organiser Dylan O’Donnell has confirmed the space and science themed weekend will be returning to Byron Bay in 2018. Presented by CelestronBintel, The European Space Agency, Cosmos Magazine & Sidereal Trading, Star Stuff II invites three renowned international guests – Fraser Cain, publisher of Universe Today, space historian Amy Shira Teitel of the “Vintage Space” YouTube channel, and Geoff Notkin – star and expert of the popular TV series “Meteorite Men”.

The two-day weekend in July 2018 at the Elements of Byron resort features solar and nighttime astronomy if the weather allows, but is otherwise a showcase of back-to-back keynote talks from space and astronomy experts. Dr Alan Duffy (Swinburne / ABC) will be presenting along with Dr David Malin (AAO) , Dr Cathal O’Connell (Cosmos Magazine), comet discover Terry LovejoyJohn Sarkissian (CSIRO), Greg Quicke aka “Space Gandalf”, Gilmour Space Technologies and local astronomer Dylan O’Donnell.

Fraser Cain of Universe Today is coming to Byron Bay from Canada which is particularly compelling for anyone who watches the night sky. “For as long as I’ve been an amateur astronomer, I’ve wanted to see the southern skies.” Cain said. “The Magellanic Clouds, the Omega Cluster. Alpha Centauri! You’ve got all the best stuff. I’m really looking forward to sharing this view of the night sky with my Southern Hemisphere friends.”

Dr Alan Duffy, who attended the first Star Stuff also expressed enthusiasm for the event. “Star Stuff was the best Australian astronomy event I’ve been to and I can’t wait to come back to see it bigger and better in 2018. Australia is on the verge of getting its own space agency making Star Stuff II even more timely as we can discuss the direction the nation takes in exploring the final frontier.”

Astronomy equipment and suppliers will also be exhibiting at the venue which will be open to the general public, but ticket holders will also be treated to giveaways, a movie screening, a luxury VIP dinner, the Fraser Cain keynote speech and potentially win a Celestron Evolution 6 complete telescope package.

Star Stuff is a privately funded event and was conceived as “smart entertainment” for inspiring interest in astronomy, space and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths) fields generally. Last year Star Stuff proceeds helped fund a small observatory for Wiley Park Girls School in western Sydney. Although only the second year, Star Stuff is already considered one of the larger amateur astronomy events in Australia.

For Byron Bay however, an event like this runs the risk of being mistaken for something more alternative, like astrology. Mixing up the two, O’Donnell says, is a huge faux pas. “Never call an astronomer an astrologer. That would be like calling a doctor a shaman, or a chemist an alchemist. Those ancient practices may be superficially related to the same subject matter as their modern counterparts but the difference is one of them works, and the other doesn’t.”

It probably doesn’t help that there is a UFO on the promotional poster.

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