After the council refused to turn off the streetlight that shines directly into his bedroom and into his backyard observatory, Dylan O’Donnell was inspired to really put Byron Bay on the map as a premo star-gazing destination.
Star Stuff brings together some pre-eminent speakers and scientists in the space community to present at possibly one of the most innovative and exciting festivals to date. And no, this is not an astrology festival. This is Space. The last, and the most fascinating, frontier.
Dylan, why did you choose to do this in Byron Bay?
Most of the time going to a dark sky for a space event involves driving for hours west and inland into remote parts of Australia with no lighting and no infrastructure. I’m pretty lazy though, and live here in Byron Bay, so I decided to bring everyone here instead. Also some people in Council and tourism wanted to see if this nerdy, low-impact, space-tourism thing is viable. Turns out, it is!
Is there a vision for this to be an annual event?
I think so. We’ve sold more than 300 tickets and haven’t lost any money despite having no financial support, so I’m already thinking about Star Stuff II.
Why do you think we all love Dr Karl so much?
Because our angsty teenage soundtrack (JJJ) was punctuated with his highly engaging, straight-to-the-point science, I think. That’s my excuse, anyway.
Where are people coming from? How many people do you think will be attending?
I would say about 90 per cent of the 300 tickets sold are coming from outside the region. We even have people coming from New Zealand and the UK!
Who will be attending? Is it all scientists, or are there enthusiasts amongst us? Do you need to be switched on to all things sciency to appreciate the presentations?
Oh it’s definitely geared to the general public. The scientists and creators speaking are not only experts in their areas, they are fantastic at sharing higher-level science so we can all understand. Also if you’re a local and not keen on the ticketed talks, come along anyway to look through the telescopes (day and night) and see all the gear and other activities. Everybody is welcome.
What are some of the highlights of your upcoming event?
If the weather is good, the stargazing and solar astronomy are musts for anyone who hasn’t recently looked through a telescope with their own eyes.
Anyone is welcome to come along for that and we’ll provide guided tours of the night sky in groups. Also Canon Australia will be running photography workshops for anyone with a DSLR who’d like to learn how to photograph the Milky Way.
For the ticketed event, the VIP dinner with Dr Karl is going to be fancy and fantastic. Not to mention that we’re giving away a $2.4k telescope on the night. But really, the whole lineup of speakers is incredible. Star Stuff at Elements of Byron is on Saturday and Sunday.
For ticketing and program information go to the website at starstuff.com.au.