Countdown to Star Stuff III – 2020!

Saturday July 18th

Elements of Byron Resort

Under the moonless sky, with the Milky Way high overhead in the dark skies of Byron Bay, Australia’s leading experts on Space, Cosmology, Astronomy, Astrophsyics, Astrophotgraphy and Science come together for a series of keynote talks on everything from Australia’s new space agency, space photography, and even a movie screening. Sponsored by Celestron & Bintel this unprecedented line up in Australia’s most easterly location is sure to expand minds in a way that hasn’t been seen since the inaugural Star Stuff 1 in 2017 which was a sell out success. Don’t miss out on this unforgettable event.

Speakers Include : Dr. Matt Agnew (Astrophysicist, The Bachelor 2019), Prof. Lisa Harvey Smith (Astrophysicist, Australian Govt, Women In STEM Ambassador, Author), Trevor Jones (Astrobackyard YouTube, Canada), Annie Handmer (Space Diplomat, Master of History & Philosophy of Science USYD), Kirsten Banks (PHD student, Astrophysicist & Science Communicator), Marnie Ogg (International Dark Sky Association, Former manager of the Sydney Observatory), Karlie Alinta Noon (Masters of Astronomy and Astrophysics Advanced ANU), Martin Pugh (Award Winning Astrophotographer) & Dylan O’Donnell (AU / Byron Bay Astronomer)

  • On site solar and nighttime viewing (Weather permitting)
  • Telescopes & Equipment vendors
  • Night Photography Tours
  • Giveaways & Special Promotions

VIP Tickets reserve your place at the Saturday night 3 course degustation dinner followed by Prof. Lisa Harvey Smith’s keynote presentation. All VIP ticket holders will automatically go in the draw to win from Australia’s Largest Telescope Store – Bintel – a Celestron Evolution 8 EDGE HD with StarSense worth $4299 AUD! The winner will be drawn at the dinner. The dinner is a luxury affair that received high praise from our guests last year – you won’t want to miss it! 

Celestron Nextar Evolution 6 Tour

Click to View Celestron Evolution 8 Tour

Stay Tuned For More …

We’ll be releasing more details about the session times and topic areas closer to the event so be sure to check back to this website or pop your email in the sign up form below and we’ll keep you informed!

Tickets On Sale Now!


News & Updates

Star Stuff III – 2020 / Cancelled.

At least we’re not dead. Yet.

Well, here we are. I last emailed you only 3 weeks ago asking what we should do about Star Stuff III in July. Here is what you guys said :

MOST of you said wait and see. Which is exactly what I did.

Only 12% said cancel. Which makes this even harder.

3 weeks is a long time and I think we’ve all gone through the stages of grief associated with this pandemic and we’re long past “acceptance” and are getting used to modern life in this technological dystopia.

I’m officially cancelling the event today with no postponement and I’ll cut to the chase – everyone gets their money back in full! Ticket holders first, then sponsors who have been very gracious through this whole process.

So hopefully that’s some small bonus, having stored some money in the Star Stuff bank for a couple months. I think we made 30 cents in interest. I’m keeping that.

Please be patient with me as I process the refunds in order of purchase. People who paid earliest, get their money back earliest which seems fair.

There are many reasons we had to cancel, but primarily the event is actually impossible to run. I can’t fly in our international speaker (Trevor from Astrobackyard, Canada). I can’t fit everyone in the room with distancing. I can’t even guarantee half the audience will be able to get here across state borders. We’re told some restrictions may be lifted by then but I think it’s fairly obvious already we won’t be restriction free by July.

Star Stuff III Ticket Reveal.

I just want to show you this cool ticket I’d designed for this year and explain it, I have 400 of these so if you see me in person, I’ll give you one! It’s a collectors item now 😉

So this year I wanted to go with the classic “Pioneer Plaque” which was sent into space in 1972 and 1973 with the pioneer spacecraft that included a map of where we are, our nudes and a technical key which how to decipher these ideas if a non-human happened to find them.

I updated this design to include a Tesla which we recently blasted into space and is now also floating around somewhere with a mannequin named Starman. This updated plaque should reduce the confusion this many cause an extra-terrestrial species.

But the really cool Easter egg on this card was to be that marker along the top. At arms length it could be used to measure apparent distances in the night sky in terms of degrees. The hole is to use the moon for calibration, since it is half a degree (31 arc minutes), placing the hole over the moon would confirm the exact distance you need to hold the card away from yourself and then allow you to measure distances in space visually with greater accuracy then the old finger/fist method. It’s a RULER – FOR SPACE!

That would’ve been cool, right?

Star Stuff is dead, long live Star Stuff.

Although the event is dead this year, and I’m not able to get drunk with you all like I’d planned to, my silly little YouTube channel will continue to bring you weird astrophotography and space related content free of charge. A lot of the event sponsors also support the channel and although I’m not as good looking as The Bachelor, there is a lot of interesting stuff there.

Sidereal Trading helped me build and upgrade a new NexDome observatory and the recent build video we produced is one of my favourites. It happened right before lockdown began.

Do subscribe if you feel like it!


Working from home.

We’re all working home now and I’ll leave you with one final insight from behind the curtain. I own and run Google Partner brands DNA Digital and zen10 with Mark Thomas. We are both Google certified and specialise in online retail, cloud hosting technology and online marketing.

Far from a downturn, we’ve noticed a surge in online activity lately and online trading. It’s like everyone is at home online all the time!

If you want help bringing your business online, that’s what we do. It’s what I’ve been doing for 20 years, and why I’ve been able to build Star Stuff over the years. We’re here for you if you need help.

DNA Digital (Byron Bay)

zen10 (Melbourne)

Thank you for your support!

We had sold 75% of the tickets already and were on the way to selling out again quickly. It’s really incredible to share our astronomical journey together both in-person and online so I thank you again for your patronage over the years and apologise for this biological interruption. We will meet again.

– Dylan O’Donnell.

The Bachelor and Professor Lisa Harvey-Smith to Headline Byron Bay Astronomy Festival

Professor Lisa-Harvey Smith will be hosting the gala dinner at Star Stuff III in Byron Bay

The Binocular and Telescope Shop (Bintel) have shared an incredible line up of Australia’s most popular Science & Astronomy experts for the much anticipated third instalment of the Star Stuff event series.

Space enthusiasts across Australia have been anticipating the announcement of Star Stuff III at Elements of Byron resort since organisers skipped the event in 2019. Major sponsor and telescope vendor Bintel shared the news and the incredible speaker list which caused a quick flurry of ticket sales from astronomy fans who have been waiting two years for the event to return to the popular beachside town.

Headlining the full day of space-focussed keynote presentations and the gala dinner is Professor Lisa Harvey-Smith, a popular Australian author, TV personality and radio astronomer often seen on the ABC as well as her work as an ambassador for women in science, technology, engineering & maths (STEM). Dr Matt Agnew, as astrophysicist known mainly for his appearance on The Bachelor AU 2019 is also on the bill and looking forward to talking more about his research on exoplanets for a change.

Other speakers include Trevor Jones, a popular YouTuber from Canada who hosts the “Astrobackyard” channel, Astrophysicists Kirsten Banks & Karlie Alinta Noon, Marnie Ogg a former manager of the Sydney Observatory, Annie Handmer from the University of Sydney to discuss Australian space policy and diplomacy, and award winning astrophotographers Martin Pugh & Dylan O’Donnell.

Dr Matt Agnew (The Bachelor AU 2019) will be presenting at Star Stuff III

Set at the suitably dark but luxurious Elements of Byron resort is a point of difference for this astronomy event, whose attendees are typically used to cold and often off-grid locations far away from city lights which can erase the view of the Milky Way. Previous speaker Fraser Cain had this to say about his appearance at the last Star Stuff event – “As a Canadian, I’ve never seen the southern skies with my own eyes before, and it’s hard to imagine a more perfect venue to appreciate the wonders of the southern hemisphere.”

Another Star Stuff regular and TV personality Professor Alan Duffy agrees. “The beauty of the Byron Bay surroundings is matched only be the enthusiasm of the audience in exploring the boundaries of the Universe and as a previous presenter I loved to discuss science both on and off the stage. As an event StarStuff is out of this world.” he said. Aboriginal astrophysicist Kirsten Banks who will be speaking at Star Stuff 2020 noted “I can’t wait to be surrounded by people who are just as crazy about space as I am!”

Known for it’s counter culture vibe, Byron Bay is perhaps an unusual location for such a mainstream science event. The environmentally conscious townspeople and astronomers have a key agreement however and Byron mayor Simon Richardson helped pass a motion through council in late 2019 highlighting the need to reduce lighting in the region. “These lights are wasting energy and releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and there’s also the impact on nocturnal wildlife like birds, frogs, insects and animals who move around in the dark. As a community we are very lucky in that we can look at the sky at night and see the stars and the Milky Way but this is not the case in many cities where, because of light pollution, the stars are invisible.”

Organiser Dylan O’Donnell stares wistfully into the void.

Organiser Dylan O’Donnell has been instrumental in proving the case for space tourism in the area and advocates looking upwards for a bigger perspective. He says “I think everyone is starting to realise that reducing light, and energy usage is a win for everybody. It helps address climate change causes, saves an incredible amount of money and reconnecting us to the Milky Way is just a bonus for us backyard and professional astronomers.”

Star Stuff III will run on Saturday the 18th July and includes 9 keynote speakers, telescope vendors and giveaways, a 3 course degustation dinner and stargazing if the weather permits. The event is brought to Byron Bay by sponsors including Bintel, Celestron, Skywatcher, Meade, Space Australia, Sidereal Trading and the Southern Astronomical Society.

Tickets are on sale now at

Last Minute Change of Speaker!

I’m really sorry to say that Terry Lovejoy has unexpectedly had to cancel his time at this years event. He sends his apologies and says he hopes to return again next year.

We only just found out so I’ve had my thinking cap on for a few days and I sat down and wrote down a list of astronomers I could think of  who would be able to speak to us all along a similar theme – the amateur contribution to astronomy. Lovejoy’s discovery of six comets is a wonderful story both technically and for it’s pure aspiration.

As I looked down at my list one name kept bubbling to the top for his skill and talent, his unique story and his similar contribution to the field from his backyard. So I reached out.

Michael Sidonio AKA Strongman Mike

I’d spoken to “Strongman Mike” just recently on the phone about his discovery of a stellar nebula emission around the R Aquarii symbiotic star system, an amazing discovery for an amateur astronomer perhaps eclipsed only by the fact that he has already discovered a previously unknown galaxy – NGC253-dw2 – in 2016 which also resulted in a published scientific paper!

The range of speakers at Star Stuff II is incredible – but hearing first hand from Michael Sidonio about his journey from leading the Australian Strongman team to making significant waves in the astronomy community is going to be incredibly special and I’m so happy he said yes at such short notice!

If you’ve ever posted an astrophoto to Ice in Space, the Southern Hemisphere’s largest astronomy forums you’ve probably already talked to Mike online and remember him as being warm and supportive despite his stature in the community. He’s award winning and considered one of Australia’s Top 10 astrophotographers, though I’d say he’s close to the top of that list. Just look at some of his images!

MEDIA RELEASE – “Star Stuff II” Astronomy Festival Returns to Byron Bay in 2018

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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