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south of scotland to host european lunar symposium in 2024

Home | News | south of scotland to host european lunar symposium in 2024

One small step for ELS, one giant leap for Dumfries and Galloway

Dumfries and Galloway is preparing to welcome over 150 members of the international lunar community to the region in June 2024 for the annual European Lunar Symposium (ELS) 

Professor Mahesh Anand, Professor of Planetary Science and Exploration at The Open University has co-chaired the symposium held at various locations across Europe since its inception in 2012, but this is the first time it will be held in Scotland.

Professor Anand was greeted with great enthusiasm when visiting Dumfries and Galloway in 2020, and thanks to the region’s strong association with Neil Armstrong (the first man to walk on the Moon) and The Open University in Scotland’s existing relationship with partners in the region, he believes Dumfries and Galloway is well-placed to host the 2024 symposium. 

Professor Anand said:

“It is a real privilege to be hosting ELS 2024 in the South of Scotland and to acknowledge Dumfries and Galloway’s existing connection with the Moon and lunar exploration. Everyone here is so proud of Neil Armstrong and the fact that he referred to the ‘Muckle Toon’ (Langholm) as home.  I know that many ELS delegates are looking forward to hearing stories from the locals about their experience of Neil Armstrong’s visit to the region in 1972 and learning more about the local area and visitor attractions including Gilnockie Tower, Crawick Multiverse, Ellisland Farm and, of course, The Crichton, our host destination for the week.

As well as bringing colleagues from across the world to this beautiful part of the country, I am also keen to influence younger generations and encourage them to believe that they too can make a big difference in lunar exploration – and that they don’t need to go to the Moon to do it!  There needs to be a legacy from this event and by inspiring young people to get involved in the space economy, I feel confident that these young people will go on to pursue their interests and make a significant impact in the future that will be of benefit to the wider society.”

The week-long event will take place at The Crichton in Dumfries from 16th – 21st June, with delegates attending from across the globe, including representatives from NASA, ESA and the UKSA. In addition, some of the world’s most prominent lunar scientists will be in attendance, exchanging ideas and discussing the latest findings from their research in lunar exploration.

  • ELS: Professor Anand is reaching out to colleagues across the globe to join him in the South of Scotland for the 2024 European Lunar Symposium, which will take place at The Crichton in Dumfries from the 16th – 21st June.

A local organising committee made up of local partners and stakeholders including the South of Scotland Enterprise Agency, The Crichton Trust, The Crichton Foundation, The Crawick Multiverse Trust and South of Scotland Destination Alliance (SSDA)  have been supporting colleagues from The Open University in Scotland to plan and deliver this international event, which as well as the conference itself, will include a range of activities and initiatives for local schools, delegate days out to explore the region, social gatherings and public engagement events.

The first of these events took place at the Kirkcudbright Dark Space Planetarium in Kirkcudbright at the end of March, where Professor Anand shared details of his ‘Living on the Moon’ project with partners and members of the public.

  • LIVING ON THE MOON: Professor Mahesh Anand and colleagues from The Open University hosted an evening lecture at the Kirkcudbright Dark Space Planetarium on 27th March entitled “Living on the Moon”.

Design sessions and writing competitions are getting underway for school pupils, and community prose and poetry workshops and performances is being planned for mid-June in partnership with D&G Arts Festival.

With delegates arriving in the region for the symposium on the 16th June, a Welcome Reception will be held in The Crichton Memorial Church that evening to offer a warm welcome to the South of Scotland. As well as the opportunity to meet other delegates, event partners and supporters, this will also see the opening of the Moon Museum; a display of local lunar artefacts from Dumfries Museum and Camera Obscura, an ancient art exhibition from the Open University’s Centre for Open Learning and a display of the Lunar Tartan designed and produced locally in Langholm.

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday will see delegates presenting details of their latest research to fellow delegates at Easterbrook Hall in Dumfries.

On the evening of Tuesday 18th, delegates and invited guests will enjoy a taste of Scottish cuisine and dancing at a Dinner and Ceilidh in Easterbrook Hall. The evening will close with Auld Lang Syne, which is known the world-over, but was written just outside Dumfries by Robert Burns in his home at Ellisland Farm.

A day out on Wednesday, will take delegates on a brief tour of the region to visit Langholm and nearby Gilnockie Tower, as well as a trip to Upper Nithsdale to explore Crawick Multiverse.  Meanwhile, young people from local schools will enjoy a day out at the ELS conference site at The Crichton where they will take part in lunar science sessions from NASA and OU academics and get an insight into careers in space from prominent members of the industry.

  • MOON ROCK: Professor Mahesh Anand at Crawick Multiverse

On Thursday, anyone who would like to experience sunrise at Crawick Multiverse, can purchase a Solstice Day Pass from Crawick Multiverse for just £10. This will provide early access to the site from 4am.

In the evening, members of the public are invited to mark the Summer Solstice by visiting the Moon Museum in The Crichton Memorial Church before attending the second Solstice Seminar in partnership with The Open University in Scotland and The Crawick Multiverse Trust in Easterbrook Hall.

The week will end on Friday 21st with a plenary session and informal lunch for delegates at The Crichton.

The ELS 2024 organising committee includes representatives from; The Open University, The Open University in Scotland, South of Scotland Enterprise, The Crichton Trust, South of Scotland Destination Alliance, The Crawick Multiverse Trust, The Crichton Foundation, NASA’s Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI), the European Space Agency and the UK Space Agency, and supported by a wide range of other individuals and organisations.

Find Out More

Visit European Lunar Symposium (ELS) or the OU in Scotland website (

Alternatively, sign up to the European Lunar Symposium 2024 mailing list and be one of the first to receive the programmes in your inbox (

Anyone interested in sponsorship opportunities should contact

About ELS

The European Lunar Symposium (ELS) is the premier Moon-focussed meeting in Europe attracting experts from across the world to discuss the latest developments in science and exploration of the Moon. It is chaired by Professor Mahesh Anand from the Open University (OU) and is a partnership between NASA SSERVI and its European nodes. Previous editions of the Symposium were held at venues across Europe, including Berlin, London, Amsterdam and most recently in Padua. The OU in Scotland has successfully bid to bring the 12th edition of ELS to Dumfries and Galloway in June 2024!

You will be welcomed to the region with a civic reception from the local council on Sunday 16th of June, before all the delegates spend the week taking part in plenary sessions where they’ll showcase their latest lunar research. On Tuesday, you are invited to a formal dinner and ceilidh where you’ll get the opportunity to mix with your fellow delegates and friends of the Symposium. We’ll also give you opportunities to explore the region’s stunning history and natural beauty, guided by local experts.

As the seat of the Clan Armstrong, Dumfries and Galloway has a longstanding lunar connection. People lined the streets when Neil Armstrong spoke at Langholm Town Hall in 1972, and with this symposium, we hope to bring that sense of wonder and excitement about the Moon back to the region. As well as the plenary sessions of the symposium itself, we’ll be bringing a number of events – from industry roundtables to school careers events to arts workshops – aimed at inspiring the people of Dumfries and Galloway and leaving behind a new lunar legacy for this remarkable region!

About The Open University in Scotland

The Open University (OU) is the largest academic institution in the UK and a world leader in flexible distance learning. Since it began in 1969, the OU has taught more the OU has taught more than 2.2 million students worldwide and currently has over 200,000 students, including almost 20,000 in Scotland.  

The OU in Scotland is the largest provider of part-time undergraduate higher education in Scotland. Our student experience is consistently highly rated. 82% of the OU’s research impact is assessed to be world-leading or internationally excellent (Research Excellence Framework, 2021) and our teaching has received the Gold rating in the Office for Students (OfS) 2023 Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF).

The OU works with Scotland’s employers and businesses to provide high quality learning and skills including a range of funding to enable training. 74% of OU students in Scotland are in full-time or part-time employment, and three out of four FTSE 100 companies have sponsored staff to take OU courses. 

In Scotland, the OU has students in every part of the country from the Shetland Isles to the Borders, 23% living in rural or remote areas and 85% of graduates remaining in the location where they studied – so their talent and skills benefit local communities. For further information please visit The Open University. 

Photos: Mike Bolam

This project is part-financed by the Scottish Government and the European Union – LEADER 2014-2020 programme
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