dark sky

Dumfries & Galloway to host European Lunar Symposium

Dumfries and Galloway is preparing to welcome over 150 members of the international moon science community for the annual European Lunar Symposium (ELS).

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, during the week long event from Sunday 16 to Friday 21 June at The Crichton in Dumfries.

As well as the scientific plenary sessions of the symposium itself, the Open University-led event will include a programme for schools and public talks - aimed at inspiring the people of Dumfries and Galloway and leaving behind a new lunar legacy for the region.


  • Representatives from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
  • The European Space Agency (ESA)
  • The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)

Professor Mahesh Anand, Professor of Planetary Science and Exploration at The Open University (OU) 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.

The event 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 a partnership between NASA Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI) and its European network.

A local organising committee is made up of local partners and stakeholders including:

  • South of Scotland Enterprise
  • The Crichton Trust
  • The Crichton Foundation
  • The Crawick Multiverse Trust
  • South of Scotland Destination Alliance (SSDA) have been supporting colleagues from the Open University to plan and deliver the ELS. 


The schools programme will include design sessions and writing competitions for pupils in the run-up to the June event, as well as a lunar science workshops, run by OU academics and NASA officers, and a careers talk from multiple members of space industry on Wednesday 19 June at The Crichton.

Fujimoto Masaki, Deputy Director General of Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), will give a public talk about Japan’s moon landing in January of this year, at a public event on the evening of Thursday 20 June, also involving speakers from NASA and the OU. You can sign up here

Professor Russel Griggs, Chair of South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE), said:

“This is a fantastic accolade for Dumfries & Galloway to host the European Lunar Symposium and it is making use of the excellent facilities on offer at the Crichton Estate.

“The region does not only have a proud role in the history of moon and lunar exploration, but the area also has the Kirkcudbright Dark Skies Planetarium as well as the Galloway International Dark Sky Park. 

"The space sector presents the South of Scotland with numerous opportunities, and SOSE will be soon revealing plans on how we can blend the region’s significant traditional strengths with new space services and technologies.

“The European Lunar Symposium not only brings together prominent scientists but also provides opportunities for young people, general public and businesses to engage with this fascinating sector through the public programme on offer throughout the week.”

Professor Anand added:

“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.”