Festival Theme 2016 – Space
Welcome to the 42nd Welwyn Festival!
The number 42 will be familiar to fans of the Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, as the answer to the Ultimate Question. That’s just one reason for choosing space as a theme for the 2016 festival.
It is now 55 years since Yuri Gagarin became the first person to fly in space. Since then around 550 people have followed him – an average of just 10 new people per year. However that will increase dramatically once Virgin Galactic starts carrying tourists. If you have about £140,000 to spare, you could be one of them!
Someone from Britain who has made a real impact on the public with his magnificent work on the International Space Station is Tim Peake, becoming the first European Space Agency astronaut from the UK. Click on this link to see when you can spot the Space Station Space Station times.
This year’s Reith lectures from the BBC were on the subject of Black Holes, and presented by Stephen Hawking. Also in the field of astronomy, in March the Hubble Space Telescope detected the most distant galaxy yet found. Named GN-z11, it is 13.3 billion light-years away, which means that the light we are seeing set out not that long (astronomically speaking) after the Big Bang.
March also saw the launch of the latest spacecraft to Mars. The two craft are part of a project by the European Space Agency, and will reach Mars in October. One of them will test the entry, descent and landing procedures to be used by the ExoMars rover which is due to be launched in 2018. With parts from all over Europe, the rover will actually be assembled in the UK – just up the road at Airbus Defence & Space in Stevenage.
2016 also marks the 90th anniversary of the launch by Dr Robert Goddard of the world’s first liquid-fuelled rocket. Local Space Expert Jerry Stone will be giving a talk about this on Friday, 24 June in the Civic Centre. It is highly visual and you’ll find it an entertaining presentation, so come along and discover the significance of Nell, Esther and Aunt Effie! Click here for more information.