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  • Star-gazing in Australia

    Posted by EDrury46 April 9, 2013 - 1,310 views - 0 comments - 1 like - #australia  #sydney    #new south wales  #tour  #Uluru  #star-gazing  #dreamtime stories 

    People, like me, in England, have spent the past few weeks battling the cold - for those of you in other parts of the world, feel free to send your weather our way, we're freezing here! However, in amongst all the cold weather, I did stray outdoors one night and happened to look up at a remarkably clear sky which (in my secluded part of the country with no light pollution) showed a wonderful display of stars. That night reminded me of the only other time I can ever recall having seen such a sky. And that was in Australia.



    Australia is famous for attracting astronomers from around the world, partly because of places such as the Sydney Observatory, but also because due to Australia's size, many areas of Australia are free from light pollution and so incredible starry-skies can be viewed from a range of locations, revealing stars and constellations that those of us from the Northern Hemisphere don't have the fortune of seeing (such as the Southern Cross).


    I have to this day, despite last week's clear sky, never seen a starry-night as spectacular as that one in Australia - and I only wish I had pictures to do it justice or even give just a smidge of an idea as to how incredible it was. Stars were present in their thousands, and every inch of sky around had an impressive constellation to see.


    Undara at dusk


    One of the best ways (for those of us who aren't skilled astronomers)  to see the Australian skies is to go on a guided tour, such as the 'Sounds of Silence' experience at Uluru, where a professional astronomer or guide can tell visitors about the stars and different constellations and stories behind them from cultural history. Aboriginal Dreamtime stories and stories from classical mythology make for a lovely evening out and engages people of all ages.  


    Below are some examples of places to visit for the ultimate Australian Star-gazing experience!


    • Sydney Observatory: located on 'Observatory Hill' in central Sydney, this building is now open as a museum for visitors to come in the evening (as well as the day) and observe through modern or the oldest in-use telescope in Australia (a refractor telescope) the stars and planets.


    • Crago Observatory: located on Bowen Mountain, part of the Blue Mountains, and has a high class telescope built with a rotating dome for optical viewing!


    • Wiruna: set in 43 hectares of 'dark-sky' observing land owned by the Astronomical Society of New South Wales some facilities are open to members only, but is still a highly regarded site for a visit.


    • Uluru: the 'Sounds of Silence' guided experience is a family friendly occasion and can be conducted after a day's exploring in the Bush!


    • Perth Observatory: Australia's oldest in-use observatory - this alone makes it worth a visit!


    • Mount Stromato Observatory: located about 20 minutes out of Canberra, it's an easy destination to get to, and is a well-regarded site by professionals.

    However, don't forget that if your schedule is so jam-packed that a trip to an observatory or a guided star-gaze isn't going to fit it, you can always take a few minutes to just lie back outside your accommodation and gaze up at the night sky. Modern apps means that often internet research can reveal within a few minutes which constellation you're viewing, without having to travel any further than your front doorstep if you don't want to!