Asteroid Day 2023 – Rochechouart


  1. “Asteroid Day – Young Artist contest” and exhibition

This drawing competition aims to raise local children’s awareness about asteroids and the value (national and international) of the Rochechouart asteroid impact!

The contest is open to children from 4 to 13 years old under cover of participating schools. The theme is “ASTEROID” and any related features the children may know or imagine…. Children’s works will be exhibited to the public from the beginning of June 2023, on the CIRIR website and in various places in Rochechouart (shops, tourist office, Maison de la Réserve, CIRIR, etc.). They will be evaluated by a jury made up of prestigious personalities who will award 3 prizes in each age group. The public will also have the opportunity to vote.

  • Astronomy Exhibition

In combination with the 20th anniversary of “Labyrinthe de la Voix” and “Ostensions” (UNESCO World Heritage), an exhibition of photos taken by local astronomers is organised. Pictures will be exhibited on a walking tour in town, in Rochechouart, throughout the summer season.

  • Planetarium

Installed in Rochechouart from June 26 to 30, the planetarium will receive schoolchildren during the days and the public in the late afternoons. On June 30, it will also be accessible to the public in the evening and at night as part of the evening entertainment.

  • “Asteroid Day” Ceremony

The “Asteroid Day” ceremony will be held on June 30 in the evening on the site of the Maison du Temps Libre in Rochechouart. The conference speakers, the animators of the various events, as well as all those who contributes to the event will be introduced. The winners of the “Asteroid Day – Young Artist contest” will also be honoured and called on stage to receive their prizes.

  • Meeting with the researchers, posters and grants for young researchers.

Young researchers, doctoral students, post-doctoral students, will present to the public their work on asteroids and/or on the exploration of planetary surfaces in poster form. The posters will be installed all week from June 26 to 30 in Rochechouart. They will be commented by the authors in person, at least on June 30 all day, in the evening and even at night in parallel to the sky observation. In exchange for their intervention, the successful candidates will receive a grant funded by the CIRIR.

  • Escape Game – Spacebus

SpaceBus France is a non-profit association created in 2017 and managed on a voluntary basis by Postdocs in astronomy to introduce astronomy through fun activities all led by astronomy professionals (researchers, doctoral students, engineers). The SpaceBus will receive schoolchildren and the public on June 30 during the day as well as in the evening and after 11 p.m. as part of the evening entertainment.

  • Astronomy “Day and Night”

In addition to the Planetarium and the SpaceBus, professional and amateur astronomers will animate, for the benefit of schoolchildren and the public, astronomy workshops including sun observations during the day. The FRIPON network and related meteor – meteorite search activities will also be presented. At nightfall, after the evening conference session (see next), the public will enjoy all the various activities mentioned above, plus night sky observations as amateur and professional astronomers, researchers and association(s) will interact with the public, and share their equipment and their skills to observe the night sky and talk about the Universe.

  • Evening public Conferences

Another highlight of this “Asteroid Day 2023” will be the evening conferences session. It will be held on June 30, 2023, at 9.30 pm in the hall of the Maison du Temps Libre (MTL) in Rochechouart. Jean Pierre Lebreton, former scientific director of the Cassini-Huygens mission to ESA, will talk about the next JUICE mission (JUpiter ICy moons Explorer). This flagship mission of the European Space Agency (ESA) is to be launched in the spring of 2023 by an Ariane 5 rocket from Europe’s spaceport in Kourou (French Guiana). JUICE will be reaching Jupiter in 2030 and will spend at least three years around Jupiter. It will make detailed observations of the main moons (so-called Galileans moons) of Jupiter. The mission will especially focus on the search for traces of life, and will seek answers or elements of answers, to two key questions: 1 – what are the conditions that prevail during the formation of planets and the emergence of life? and 2 – how does the Solar System work?

Beyond Jupiter, this evening conference session will transport us to Saturn and its worlds with magnificent images and feedback from what is still today, the most remarkable space exploration mission of humanity. This is the Cassini-Huygens mission which mobilized jointly NASA and ESA in an adventure that lasted more than 30 years. Jean Pierre Lebreton will tell us about it. He was Head of the European part of this international mission and it was he and his team who achieved the prodigious feat of landing, under parachute, the Huygens lander on Titan, one of the most distant moons and the most extraordinary of our Solar System.

Moreover, Humanity plans to return there and this will also be addressed during the evening conference session. The NASA mission Dragonfly, (“libellule” in French) is planned to continue, after Huygens, the in-situ exploration of the surface of Titan. It aims to study the biochemistry of Titan to understand if it is compatible with the existence of life, present or past, on the surface of Titan. Launch is scheduled for 2027, with plans to land in 2034. France is present in this Dragonfly mission, with CNES, (French Space Agency) and several laboratories in the Paris region, under the direction of LATMOS (Atmospheres, Environments and Space Observations Laboratory, Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines University, UVSQ).  The LATMOS will be on stage during this evening public conference session, to tell us all about it with the people in charge of the design and management of the key instrument of the mission, for analysing the material on the surface of Titan. This instrument will be embarked on a giant drone designed by the Americans from the APL/JHU (Applied Physics Laboratory/Johns Hopkins University) which, like a dragonfly, will land from site to site over a large area to carry out these analyses.

Note : Food and beverage can be purchased on site. Picnics are also welcome. Animations are all free.