An astrophysicist, spaceflight historian, observatory operator and ‘The Discoverer of Pulsars’ are among the stellar all-female line up of guest speakers at this year’s CWAS Astrofest in Parkes.

The festival endeavours to bring together people of the Central West and world renowned astronomers, both professional and amateur, so they may share their enthusiasm and love of the heavens.

Parkes will welcome Donna Burton, Amy Shira Teitel, Professor Elaine Sadler and Dame Jocelyn Bell-Burnell for the two day conference in July.

Parkes Shire Mayor, Councillor Ken Keith said “we are delighted to host such acclaimed space personalities, who will provide their insights into the various aspects of modern astronomy.”

“Parkes boasts the darkest skies in Australia, and this event is a fantastic way to showcase our part of the universe to people from all across the world.”

The conference, held in the Coventry Room, will include a series of talks and daytime astronomy, with the highlight being the conference dinner held on Saturday 14 July.

Irish astrophysicist, Dame Jocelyn Bell-Burnell will deliver The John Bolton Lecture. Dame Bell-Burnell is credited with "one of the most significant scientific achievements of the 20th Century", discovering the first radio pulsars in 1967. The discovery was recognised by the award of the Nobel Prize in Physics to her thesis supervisor Antony Hewish.

The popular astrophotography competition will return in 2018, open to all amateur astronomers in Australia. Dr David Malin, the world-renowned astrophotographer, will judge the entries.

A selection of the best images will go on display at the Parkes Observatory Visitors Centre, and will remain on exhibition for the entire year, with the "David Malin Awards" presented at a special ceremony held during the conference dinner.

This year, Council is pleased to further support the annual staging of this event in Parkes by developing a public artwork featuring finalists from the David Malin Astrophotography Awards throughout the history of Astrofest.

The second day of the Conference is held at the CSIRO Parkes Radio Telescope, with the official opening of the David Malin Awards Exhibition at the Visitor Centre. If the stars align, and the sun is shining, you can gaze through a telescope and view bright stars, planets, the Sun and the Moon during the daytime.

Getting peckish whilst out there staring into space? Not a problem. Breakfast and lunch are available at the Dish Café.

For the full programme of events, visit the Central West Astronomical Society’s website, www.cwas.org.au/astrofest