About 2,000 experts from around the world will hold symposia on topics ranging from dark matter and black holes to planetary exploration, plans for building giant telescopes and the “recycling of intergalactic matter,” organisers said.

It is the 25th general assembly of the International Astronomical Union, the world’s largest professional astronomers’ body with more than 8,000 members worldwide.

"Run once every three years, the general assembly is one of the largest and most diverse meetings on the astronomical community's calendar," said Helen Sim of Australia's commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.

The conference, which runs from 13 July to 26 July, will include discussion on attempts to map the cosmos and other deep space topics like black holes and neutron stars – the collapsed remnants of burnt out stars.

But more earth related topics will focus on planetary exploration, the hunt for extra-terrestrial life and European plans to build a mega-telescope in Chile.

Singled out for special attention is the future of Antarctica as a prime base for heaven watching.

The cold, dry air above the continent and its unique magnetic characteristics provide ideal conditions for astronomical observation.

Speakers will notably report on an immense project called ICECUBE to expand a neutrino telescope at the South Pole to encompass a cubic kilometre of collecting area.