Conference Title

Date, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand

Keynote Speakers

Dr Natalie Batalha
NASA Ames Research Center Moffett Field, California.

Natalie Batalha is a Kepler Mission scientist responsible for the extraordinarily successful Kepler satellite’s program to detect Earth-like exoplanets that potentially can sustain life. She is now also working on the James Webb Space Telescope, due for launch in 2018, which will largely replace Hubble, and also on WFIRST, the Wide-field Infrared Survey Telescope (launch mid-2020s).

Natalie Batalha in April 2017 was named by Time Magazine as one of the 100 most influential people on Earth in 2017, for her contributions to the discovery of habitable exoplanets. See

A Planet for Goldilocks: The Search for Evidence of Life Beyond Earth "Not too hot, not too cold" begins the prescription for a world that's just right for life as we know it. Finding evidence of life beyond Earth is one of the primary goals of science agencies around the world thanks in large part to NASA's Kepler Mission. Operating since March 2009, the mission's objective is to determine the fraction of stars that harbour potentially habitable, Earth-size planets. Indeed, the space telescope opened our eyes to the terrestrial-sized planets that populate the Galaxy as well as exotic worlds unlike anything that exists in the solar system. The mission ignited the search for life beyond Earth via the remote detection of atmospheric biosignatures on exoplanets. Most recently, the discovery of Goldilocks worlds orbiting some of the nearest neighbours to the Sun captured our imaginations and turned abstractions into destinations. Dr Batalha will give an overview of the science legacy of the Kepler mission and other key discoveries. She'll give a preview of what's to come by highlighting the missions soon to launch and those that are concepts taking shape on the drawing board.


Sze-leung Cheung

Sze-leung Cheung is IAU International Outreach Coordinator heading the International Astronomical union’s Office for Astronomy Outreach in Tokyo. He is a Chinese citizen fluent in Mandarin, Cantonese and English, and his job is to coordinate and provide support to the worldwide astronomical communities, to help them to make astronomy accessible to a wider public. He was originally from Hong Kong and he   organized a light off event at Hong Kong during 2009. He will talk at the Starlight Festival about issues of light pollution and stargazing. He has offered talks in Chinese for our Asian visitors as well as in English.

The threats of LEDs to astronomy and build a dark sky friendly future Light pollution is a global issue and the situation is becoming worse by the rapid use of LEDs. LEDs were designed to be an energy-efficient lighting device that could minimize the energy impact for the planet, however, LED is rich in blue color and is quite harmful for astronomy, health and the nature. The speaker will also talk about different dark sky actions that could be act on, including his own example in the heavily light polluted city - Hong Kong.
In addition, Sze-leung Cheung will give a talk in Chinese LED對天文的威脅 光害或光污染是一個悠久的問題,但近年光污染的情況因為LED的普及而變得嚴重。LED的設計是為了降低能源的消耗,但它的光線以藍光為主,對天文、人類健康及大自然都構成極大的 威脅。講者還會討論一起我們可以進行保護黑夜的行動,和他自身在一個極度光污染嚴重的城市 - 香港所進行光污染保育工作的經驗。


Kevin Govender

Kevin Govender began work at the International Astronomical Union’s Office of Astronomy for Development (OAD) in Cape Town, South ASfrica in March 2011 as its first Director. He has extensive experience using astronomy for development during his previous position as the Manager of the  Collateral Benefits Programme at the South African Astronomical Observatory. He also chaired the Developing Astronomy Globally Cornerstone Project of the International Year of Astronomy (IYA2009) and was involved in the development of the IAU Strategic Plan.
He will talk at the Starlight Festival about the inspiration of the starlit skies to inspire young people to reach their potential through science and education.

Astronomy for Humankind Here we have the Earth. What a place! The consolidated image of everything that we know as life – the trees, plants, insects, ocean life, pets, friends, family – human beings. The whole of humankind exists only here – on Earth. This place that Carl Sagan described as the “pale blue dot” along with an excellent description of this planet we all know so well. This planet is the place where humankind has evolved, adapted, and flourished. To the point where we are pushing the planet to the absolute limits of what it can provide us. Who are these human beings? They’re you and me and everyone we’ve met or will ever meet. They are individuals walking around this planet with the most powerful resource carried on their shoulders – the human mind. Think about it – every one of those people is carrying around a universe of their own – a universe in which they give their own completely individual levels of importance to things. Maybe the most important thing to that person is that he’s just broken up with his girlfriend. Maybe that person is feeling really ill from a bad lunch she had. Maybe that person forgot to put on deodorant that morning and is terrified that the people around them are going to notice. Maybe that person really can’t stand this crowd and is growing more and more upset every time someone bumps into them. The world is full of these individual universes. Full of minds that have the ability to comprehend that that bright Sun that’s shining on them is actually a star that’s much much much bigger than their whole planet…




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