DIALOGUES: Astronomy - November 2018

The Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) organizes the 12th event of its monthly DIALOGUES series, which will focus on “Astronomy.” The event taking place in November marks the completion of the series’ first year since its establishment. In their new phase, the DIALOGUES series will travel, near of far. The events taking place as part of the DIALOGUES series are usually scheduled for the last Wednesday of every month. As an exception, the event for November will take place on Tuesday, November 27th at 17:30. First stop of the travelling Dialogues is the Eugenides Foundation’s New Digital Planetarium for a discussion under the stars.

How often do you we find ourselves wishing on a star? Where is this star heading? How many times have we wondered where the universe ends and where it begins? Are we alone in this cluster of planets, asteroids and solar systems? This November, we take our seat in front of a telescope and discuss these questions and more with experts, scientists and amateur astronomers. Renowned speakers will “guide” us through the universe, raising questions that concern all mankind.

Speakers will include among others:

- Fiori-Anastasia Metallinou – Astrophysicist at the National Observatory of Athens and Soloist

- Xenophon Mousas - a Professor of Space Physics at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Head of the Antikythera Mechanism Research Project

- Konstantinos Tassis - Coordinator of PASIPHAE (Polar-Area Stellar-Imaging in Polarization High-Accuracy Experiment) / Associate Professor of Astrophysics, University of Crete

- Vasiliki Pavlidou - Coordinator of PHAESTOS (Probing High-Energy Astrophysics Environments and Systems Through Optopolarimetric Surveys) Associate Professor, Department of Physics, University of Crete

- Konstantinos Emmanouilidis - Amateur Astronomer and Supernova Chaser

The discussion will be moderated by journalist, Anna Kynthia Bousdoukou.

Τhe discussion will be preceded by an introduction from Dionysis Fotopoulos, director of Eugenides Foundation’s New Digital Planetarium. 

The event is free and open to the public. Participants must pre-register online, on a first-come first-serve basis. 

Kindly be advised that while the registrations to the event have now been completed, additional seats may be available following cancellations. In addition on the day of event there will be a waiting list for no shows on the spot. 

To accommodate additional participants, the event will also be livestreamed at the Visitors Center of the National Observatory of Athens where a live connection will also take place during the event. Following the discussion, observation of the night sky with the historical Doridis telescope will take place for participants attending the livestreaming event. Availability of seats is limited and pre-registration is required. To register to attend the livestreaming of the discussion at the National Observatory of Athens click here

The event will be live streamed via www.SNF.org/live and will be available on demand in both video and podcast format on the SNF’s website.

Listen to the November Dialogues Radio Spot

24h expedition in Crete: Looking for the beginning of time

Descending the curvy roads of Mount Psiloritis at 4 a.m. is a real challenge—just not for the reasons we’d have expected. It wasn’t that we were tired in body after a long day of filming or in spirit after a long day of of trying to understand the origins of the universe.
It was the sheep. Two hundred of them, eyes flashing in our headlights, blocking our way home.

How did we find ourselves here? It began with the upcoming DIALOGUES event on Astronomy, in which world experts in astronomy will be discussing the Polar-Area Stellar-Imaging in Polarization High-Accuracy Experiment (PASIPHAE) project, which is supported by an SNF grant. When most of the words in a project title go over your head, it’s a sign that you need more background information. And so we undertook to make a short film to give this background.

After traveling to University of Crete to meet the scientists in charge of the experiment, we headed to the beautiful village of Anogia, famous for its inhabitants who survived two wars and its free-range husbandry. There, over a meal of the famous local lamb, called “Ofto,” we learned from the experts about the Big Bang, Einstein's theory of relativity, and about how we might seek the origins of the universe.

Ascending to the peak of Psiloritis at at an altitude of 1,750 m, we passed from valleys of green grass to the lunar landscape surrounding the Skinakas Observatory. The air was clear and cold, and the view breathtaking. The sky looked somehow different, brighter, than we were used to, and our hosts explained that we were above atmospheric pollution.

Low temperatures and strong wind made the filming difficult, but the real challenge, foreshadowing our work, was the anarchic movement of sheep grazing there and the clanging of their bells. We learned much more about the scientists’ work, including the timeliness of support for their experiment, helping them keep the research going on in Greece.