2009 has been deemed the International Year of Astronomy, and Sydney has taken the theme straight to its bosom.
Sydney Observatory and observatories throughout New South Wales have a universe of events planned, aimed at increasing the public’s awareness of the beauty and awe-inspiring sights the universe has to offer. Before I go into the extensive list, however, I thought I’d make mention of why 2009 has been deemed the International Year of Astronomy.
In essence, 2009 marks 400 years since Galileo, arguably one of the most important astronomers in the field, turned his telescope to the stars and was bold enough to state the Earth revolved around the Sun, not the other way around.
That being said, 400 years later there are still very few of us who understand or even contemplate Earth’s position in the universe. Thus the importance of encouraging a broader curiosity and wonder about the universe we live in.
With ninety percent of Australia’s astronomy infrastructure currently housed in New South Wales, it is the perfect place to celebrate the Year of Astronomy and foster this new curiosity in our kids.
Get involved in 2009, the International Year Astronomy, and set your child on a path of intellectual enlightenment, offering them useful tools for an ever-increasing “space-faring” future. Take a look at these events and visit your closest observatory, listed below.
Sydney Observatory April school holiday program
Bring your children to the Sydney Observatory these holidays, and we’ll take them on a tour of the universe! Children’s planetarium An entertaining 30 minute constellation storytelling session in the beanbag planetarium. Sit back and be amazed as you travel through time and space.
Treasures of Sydney Observatory
Join a fabulous guided stargazing tour featuring stories of the instruments used by past explorers and astronomers to map both skies and land. Explorers and astronomers such as Matthew Flinders, James Cook and Henry Chamberlain Russell. The tour includes the 3D Space Tour through the universe.
Winter Solstice at the Sydney Observatory
Celebrate the International Year of Astronomy at the Sydney Observatory. On 21 June at 3.46pm the Sun is at its most northerly position for the year. This is the day of the winter solstice, about which mythology has developed and superstition has grown.
Sky’s The Limit: Astronomy In Antiquity
Many ancient religions and their myths revolve around the planets and the stars as they looked to the stars to make sense of their world. Follow the stars and see how people used them to predict the change of the seasons, track time and create calendars.
South Pacific Star Party
Since 1993 the Astronomical Society of New South Wales has hosted the now famous annual South Pacific Star Party (SPSP). The Star Party provides amateurs with the chance to meet other amateur and professional astronomers, and observe under dark skies with superb seeing conditions the night sky as it’s meant to be viewed.
Space exhibition – Powerhouse Museum
Open every day except Christmas Day. (Extended opening times for some public and/or school holidays.) The Powerhouse Museum’s exhibition Space looks at the history of the human desire to travel beyond Earth’s atmosphere.
Parramatta Park Astronomy Open Night
Come along to the Parramatta Park Astronomy Open Night, a large scale, multi-society public open night to be held at Parramatta Park, Saturday, 2nd May 2009, from 6:30pm on.
Music and the Cosmos
Music and the Cosmos is a special event featuring leading astronomers from the University of Sydney’s School of Physics, and an SCM Chamber Music Ensemble. Celebrate the International Year of Astronomy with the Sydney Science Forum and Sydney Conservatorium of Music.
Smart light Sydney
Smart Light Sydney is a free, self-guided Light Walk. Take a stroll from Sydney Observatory through and around the iconic harbour front precinct, viewing the beautiful and dynamic light art sculptures using innovative, smart technology.
Astrophotography on a budget
Astrophotography doesn’t have to be expensive. Mike Salway (Ice in Space website – Astronomical imaging on a budget) reveals how to get the most out of your equipment and take beautiful pictures on a budget.
Saturn Night Fever
Peer through the Sydney Observatory telescopes and see a naked Saturn without its rings, Alpha and Beta Centauri, the constellations Taurus and Virgo and a universe of other celestial features, and experience space as never before in the 3D Space Theatre.
Observatories in Sydney and NSW
Mudgee Observatory has been a private observatory for the past ten years though is now open to school groups, organized tours and any member of the general public who wishes to attend.
The Dubbo Observatory lets you zoom to the moon and through the solar system. Discover the Milky Way and beyond with the most high-tech telescopes in the West.
CSIRO Parkes Radio Telescope – ‘The Dish’
The famous Parkes observatory, as featured in the Australian movie ‘The Dish’, is a landmark radio telescope nearly 50 years old, yet still considered to be one of the best single dish radio telescopes in the world.
Darby Falls Observatory
The Darby Falls Observatory is located on Observatory Road (off the road to Mt. McDonald) Darby Falls, Cowra. Open Friday, Saturday & Sunday nights and every night during school holidays (weather permitting). Winter 7pm to 10pm, summer (daylight savings) 8:30pm to 11pm.
Green Point Observatory
The Green Point Observatory is operated by the Sutherland Astronomical Society (SAS) in Sydney, and houses 41cm and 35cm telescopes. Green Point Observatory is open for meetings every Thursday evening, commencing at 8pm, and visitors are welcome to attend Guest Speaker Talk.
Koolang Observatory and Space Science Centre
The Koolang Observatory and Space Science Centre is located on the border of the Central Coast and Lower Hunter, no more than two hours from most Sydney and Newcastle suburbs. The Koolang Observatory and Space Science Centre is a public access astronomical observatory.
Macquarie University Observatory
Macquarie University campus at North Ryde is open to the public on Friday nights from March to November inclusive, subject to bookings, unless raining. Please ring for confirmation on 0427 433 388 if the weather is doubtful.
Port Macquarie Observatory
The Port Macquarie Observatory is run by the Port Macquarie Astronomical Association Inc., a non profit voluntary group of people interested in astronomy. Astronomy Open Nights The observatory is open to the public on Sunday and Wednesday nights.
The Australia Telescope Compact Array – Narrabri
The Australia Telescope Compact Array (ATCA), at the Narrabri Observatory, is an array of six 22-m antennas used for radio astronomy. Located about 25 km west of the town of Narrabri in rural NSW (about 500 km north-west of Sydney), it is operated by the Australia Telesco Read more..
University of Western Sydney Observatory
The University of Western Sydney (UWS) Observatory runs public astronomy nights along with school, holiday and group programs during the day or evening. UWS Observatory is located at the University of Western Sydney, Penrith Campus, Great Western Highway, Werrington North.
Wollongong Science Centre and Planetarium
The Wollongong Science Centre and Planetarium is operated by the University of Wollongong as a public science centre. The centre includes a planetarium (BlueScope Steel Star Theatre), observatory, laser light shows, extensive interactive exhibits, demonstration theatre and more.
Bathurst Observatory is located at two sites. One site is for research and study, while the other is for public viewing through telescopes, and also has a daytime space show in the new 200 seat theatrette. The public observatory is located at the Bathurst Goldfields site.
Crago Observatory is located on Bowen Mountain near North Richmond (NW of Sydney), and is operated by the Astronomical Society of NSW. The observatory houses a 40cm Dobsonian telescope, and is open on Saturday nights (nearest to Last Quarter Moon phase).
Visit Linden Observatory in the Blue Mountains and join any of WSAAG’s (Western Sydney Amateur Astronomy Group) observing nights, where anyone can drop in and look through their telescopes. Observing nights are usually held on Saturdays closest to the New Moon.
Siding Spring Observatory
Siding Spring Observatory is home to some of the world’s major telescopes and Australia’s largest optical telescopes. Siding Spring Observatory is located next to the picturesque Warrumbungle National Park near Coonabarabran, N.S.W.
Warrumbungle Observatory, otherwise known as “Tenby Observatory”, is located on the Timor Road that leads out to the Warrumbungle National Park, 10 kilometres from Coonabarabran. The Warrumbungle Observatory holds three Computerised telescopes including a 14 inch Telescope.
Introducing yourself and your child or children to the wonders of the universe and really coming to understand our planet’s place in it is the greatest way to emphasise how delicate and extraordinary life on Earth really is. Not only will you learn, you’ll find your jaw dropping at the marvels and imagery the galaxy and universe present us every day, yet we rarely raise our gaze to.
Visit OnlySydney Museum and Science for listings and more information on these 2009 International Year of Astronomy events and Sydney Observatories.