Professor David Block - Ambassador to the Stars

Aurora Tours


Ambassador to the Stars

Professor David Block showed me images that had the capacity to make me feel insignificant and empowered in equal measures; from startling close-ups of stellar maternity wards (literally, where stars are born), to serene majesty of the Aurora Borealis. The images were taken by the professor - the first through a telescope at the European Southern Observatory in Chile, and then the second during one of his many trips to the Arctic.

Professor Block’s CV is nearly as impressive as the night sky. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society of London at the age of 19, and a year later they published his first research paper on relativistic astrophysics. He holds a PhD specialising in the morphology of spiral galaxies, and serves as a professor at the School of Computer Science and Applied Mathematics at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. He has also been a guest at numerous international universities and observatories, including Harvard.

In 2013 Professor Block received the National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF) BHP Billiton Award recognising him as one of South Africa’s greatest communicators in science to the public, and he has authored and co-authored several books, including Shrouds of the Night and God and Galileo.

But academic glories aside, one of his proudest moments, he says, was when he accompanied the world’s most famous scientist of recent times, the late Stephen Hawking, to meet former President Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg. ‘The legendary Stephen Hawking was undoubtedly one of the greatest minds of all time. His intellectual genius surpassed it all.’

Professor Block’s collection of celestial photographs allowed me to peer into mysterious black holes, nebulae and faraway galaxies, including some of the most distant objects discerned in the universe. They teased out thoughts not only about our role on this earth, but also what’s out there and how beautiful it is. With every image, my knee-jerk, and fairly unoriginal, response was ‘Wow!’ But it’s that response that gives Professor Block the greatest joy, and the reason why, when he’s not lecturing or writing, he leads small groups of people to Northern Norway to share in the awe of the cosmos.

How wonderful to be taken to see the aurora borealis by a world-renowned astronomer, who knows where to go and when, and who can wax lyrical about the immensity and complexity of the universe. Unlike other tour operators and their guides (and there are many that offer this excursion), the charismatic professor can break down these complicated subjects, and explore the evidence for design in the astrophysical world with you.

"I’ve devoted more than 35 years to sharing the wonders of the cosmos, as well as encouraging audiences around the globe to always look up, but the most satisfying experiences is telling guests on my Arctic tours to look up at the Northern Lights in all their glory. The thrill on their faces tells me we as humans need to stay in touch with the universe."

PRIVATE EDITION ISSUE 45 - WORDS CATHERINE DAVIS

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Next Tour Date

24 - 28 February 2025 - Five nights
Location: Svolvær – Lofoten Islands - Northern Norway.

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2024 Tours

2024 tours are fully booked.
Future tours to be announced.

Testimonials

"Thank you thank you thank you! Your enthusiasm and passion is absolutely contagious. We have been blessed to experience this incredible adventure with you. God's creation is truly marvelous and you have opened a new window for us to appreciate His magnificent craftmanship. Thank you for your love and friendship Fondest love in the Lord."

Norman and Maralyn Hanna - Johannesburg, South Africa

"Professor Block is the right person to take you to the right place at the right time to watch the heavens put on a dance you won't forget. The tour was well researched; organised and ran without a glitch. The Professor's greatest joy was watching his group say WOW! There is no doubt in my mind that if the Aurora is on your bucket list, this is the tour to go on."

Anelize Becker - New Zealand

"Many travel to see this magical display and many return disappointed. Not us. No words feel adequate to desribe there transcient ever-changing dancing rays. Breathtakingly beautiful. So majestic, so entrancing. The trip from beginning to end was a wonderment to behold. David, your lectures from the Aurora in our night skies, intriguing "Hawking and Time" to the endearing "Einstein Piano" offered far more than an appreciation of the secular experience of the Aurora. You touched all our hearts with your knowledge, insights and passion. Unparalleled. I can't wait to go again."

Marie Eltringham - Johannesburg

"There are many, many reasons I would recommend travelling with Professor David Block to view the Aurora Borealis. His passion for and knowledge of astronomy is unparalleled .... His experience with viewing the Aurora also makes it more likely that you will see her... Even in the stormiest of weather conditions and forecasts, he keeps you looking up."

Dr Cheryl Attree and Dr Mark Eltringham - Johannesburg