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.
Labels: astronomy, Canberra