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Meet an astronaut: Spacefest lands in Tucson

More than 1,000 people, from early astronauts (including two moonwalkers) to artists, cutting-edge researchers and fans from around the world will attend.

This will be the event’s eighth year, and the fifth time it has been held in Tucson, regarded by many Spacefest fans as the astronomy capital of the world.

Many travel great distances to attend Spacefest year after year, said Sally Poor, who produces the event with her husband, Kim. The couple own Novaspace, a Tucson-based mail-order business specializing in astronomical art and astronaut autographs.

Still, there is always plenty of room for Tucsonans.

“Usually, when people get there, they don’t know what to do first,” Sally Poor said. Tours slated for Thursday, June 8, to places like Kitt Peak have long been sold out, but there is plenty to do and see Friday through Sunday, with talks, exhibits and vendors selling items ranging from meteorites to T-shirts.

There will be lectures, space-themed art for sale, a star party, a book signing by women who trained as astronauts in the 1950s, a dinner followed by a panel discussion with astronauts and opportunities to mingle, and a musical space jam on Friday. In addition, the Poors have planned a “STEAM” program (the A is for art) with hands-on activities for children and adults.

Anyone who regularly watches the Discovery Channel will recognize most of the speakers, Poor said.

Poor predicts Alan Stern will be a big draw this year. A planetary scientist, space program executive, aerospace consultant and author, Stern leads NASA’s New Horizons mission to the Pluto system and the Kuiper Belt. He will talk about that mission and what can be gained by exploring the icy worlds at the edge of the solar system.

Another speaker not to miss is Geoff Notkin, who will present the “Top 10 Adventures of an Action Scientist” on Saturday afternoon.

The Emmy Award-winning host of TV’s “STEM Journals” and “Meteorite Men” will share tales of his travels around the world in search of adventure and space rocks.

Comet hunter David Levy and Chris Impey, an author and recipient of the University Distinguished Professor award at the University of Arizona, are among many taking part.