Christchurch to host major international astronomy conference

The five-day conference will bring the world's top astronomers to the New Zealand city and is expected to make an economic impact of NZD 1.1 million for the region.

Christchurch has secured the Extreme Solar Systems V conference, to be held at Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre, 16-21 March 2024.

More than 500 international members of the American Astronomical Society (AAS), who focus on the study of exoplanets outside of our solar system, will come together for the five-day conference.

As part of the conference, delegates will be invited to participate in a field trip to the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve, the largest in the Southern Hemisphere and one of only eight in the world.

The event was secured with the support of ChristchurchNZ and Tourism New Zealand.

ChristchurchNZ head of business events, Megan Crum, said the prestigious international conference is expected to have an economic impact of NZD 1.1 million for the Canterbury region.
“It boosts Christchurch’s reputation as a knowledge and experience hub and will leave a lasting legacy for the region,” Crum said.
“Our vibrant, intelligent small city is the full package in a bucket-list destination. Excellent flight connectivity into New Zealand’s second largest airport makes it attractive to international experts for many reasons.
“The wider Canterbury region is home to New Zealand’s premier astronomical research centre, The University of Canterbury Mount John Observatory set within Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve. This is a chance for them to see systems that can only be viewed from the Southern Hemisphere. Just three hours’ drive, Christchurch is an ideal knowledge hub for this conference.”
Tourism New Zealand general manager New Zealand & Business Events, Bjoern Spreitzer, said the conference will bring the world’s top astronomers not only to explore New Zealand, but also to explore opportunities to collaborate and invest in our growing space sector.
“The positive impacts of this event will extend far beyond the initial visitor benefits to our economy,” Spreitzer said.
AAS event manager, Lisa Arnold, based in Washington DC who visited Christchurch recently, said delegates will be coming from the United States and Canada, South America, and Europe.
“Christchurch is not just another big city that could be anywhere in the world, but a destination with a real point of difference for delegates,” Arnold said.
“It will be a lifetime experience for them to meet with local academics and they will have incredible opportunities for pre and post touring and field trips.”

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