Saturday, August 22, 2015


We Are The Champions !!

Last night was extremely exciting for a small bear. The Australian National University, Mt Stromlo Observatory and the Canberra Astronomical Society combined to attempt the world record for the biggest number of people stargazing from a single site. As both Oldies used to work for ANU and Stromlo and are members of CAS we just had to be part of this. The attempt was based at one of the large sports ovals at ANU; the top image gives you an idea of the size. As the time for the attempt approached the oval filled with thousands of people. Lots of them had telescopes, many had binoculars, and there were small souvenir telescopes sold as well. As people arrived and the oval filled, the clouds got thicker and thicker and tension grew. Then it was time. The lights around the oval were turned off and some breaks opened in the clouds. For the required 20 minutes of the attempt it was possible to observe the Moon and many southern stars. Some people managed to see star clusters as well. Well, WE DID IT! The official count was 1,869 registered participants. There were, unfortunately, another couple of hundred people who for, one reason or another, didn't register. I reckon there were well over 2,000 people there. An hour later there was an attempt on the record for the maximum number stargazing simultaneously from sites all across the nation. The results for that will not be in for a few days, but there were groups registered from many cities and even the Australian territory of Macquarie Island. And guess what? The souvenir telescope that Mum bought is just the right size for me. Of course it is tiny and not really very powerful, but it will let me see craters on the Moon and birds in the bushes, so I really like it.

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Friday, August 21, 2015


Dam and Kites

Last Sunday was actually warm(ish) and sunny, so we went for a drive out to the new area of Googong. This is a village that is growing just outside the water catchment area of Googong Dam. This dam is a vital part of the water supply for Canberra and Queanbeyan. We visit the dam occasionally and have seen it at all stages from empty to full. On our last visit the new spillway had just been finished and the dam was totally full. It is still full and overflowing gently over the spillway. After visiting the dam we went for a look at the village. Lots of new houses but at the moment the closest shops are in Queanbeyan. Eventually there will be a big shopping mall in central Googong. By sheer luck, we were there while a kite festival was in progress. There were all sorts and sizes of kites in the air, and a few that refused to leave the safety of the ground or trees. If you look closely at the images you can see kites that look like parrots, an octopus, a paraglider, and even one that looks like a classical kite. I have actually flown under a kite when I was younger and Unka Mark tried to teach me to fly. Mum made him stop when he wanted to let me fly loose, without being tethered.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2015


Waxwork Dummies

One of the "must see" places in London is Madame Tussauds. This is a museum full of wax dummies of famous (and infamous) people. It is housed in the old London Planetarium, easy to get to by bus or tube from anywhere in London. The Oldies were there during their big overseas trip back in 2007 (the one that they didn't take me on because the customs people at Heathrow were impounding small critters). The display changes over the years, but there are around 100 statues on display at any time. Naturally, the Oldies misbehave when I am not around to keep them in line, so here they are hamming it up with some of their favourite dummies. Mum is snuggling up to Johnny Depp and Nicholas Cage. I can't show the photo of what she did with Tom Jones. Dad is trying to convince Admiral Nelson and Sir Francis Drake that jeans and t-shirt are far more comfortable than the gear they are wearing, and is discussing the finer points of cosmology with Albert Einstein. In the lower levels of the museum is the Chamber of Horrors. This is full of wax dummies of notorious murderers and criminals. A scary addition is the use of actors who creep around in the gloomy sections and scare visitors. I am not sure I would like the Chamber of Horrors, but I sure would like to see the rest and Mum would get a great kick out of snuggling up to Benedict Cumberbatch's replica.

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Bateman's Bay Boats

It is miserable weather in Canberra. Mid-winter. Cold, cloudy, foggy and frosty mornings, icy winds blowing straight from Antarctica. Actually there are a few days every so often that are sunny, but the rest of the time I wish I was somewhere warmer. No chance of a holiday trip to warmer climes for months, until the Oldies recover from their health troubles. So here are a couple of photos from last summer, taken at Bateman's Bay, the closest coastal town to Canberra. Boats and water are some of my favourite things. On a clear, calm day like the one in the images boating is absolute pleasure. Mind you, I rather like a bit of rough sea as well; quite a few of my earlier posts show that. So, a fishing trawler and a river tour boat in the top photo and catamaran yachts moored in the lower one. Next trip to the bay I will talk the Oldies into taking me on the river cruise.

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