A STAR-STUDDED line-up of scientists, including The Sky at Night presenter Professor Chris Lintott, are getting ready to descend on Abingdon for the ATOM festival.

The town’s annual celebration of science and technology is just two weeks away and organisers have worked hard to secure an impressive array of speakers for the thriving festival.

Among the guests booked are Professor Marcus Du Sautoy, who has worked to popularise mathematics, experimental psychologist Professor Brian Rogers who works with how the mind perceives 3D images, and feline specialist Professor Andy Sparkes. ATOM’s committee chairman James White said: “It’s a really good and varied programme, bigger than anything we’ve put on before. There’s also more events for children which is something we were keen to do.”

The nine-day event was created in 2014 by residents keen to take advantage of the town’s position as an ‘epicentre of UK science’ due to its proximity to Harwell Campus, the Rutherford Appleton laboratory and Culham Science Centre.

Along with talks by renowned scientists on subjects as diverse as oceanography and volcanoes to robots and the mysteries of cats, there will also be lab-based challenges for families plus an array of activities at two open-air markets in the town centre. Following poor turnout in 2016, when the line-up was largely organised by Oxfordshire Science Festival, organisers decided to bring the festival back to its roots for the March 2017 festival. Retired businessman Mr White said: “It was absolutely the right decision and, while we wish them well, we could not have achieved what we have done without setting up as our own charity.

“The committee has already started thinking about a five-year plan to continue to grow the festival and attract even more eminent scientists.” This year’s programme, which will run from March 10 to March 18, will use a variety of locations including the Abbey buildings and Abingdon School, which is championing science subjects through an outreach programme called the Abingdon Science Partnership.