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#752902 - 03/22/12 03:34 PM Australian star party
Jim Colyer Offline
Parakeet

Registered: 10/11/04
Posts: 1111
Loc: Nashville, TN
I took American Airlines to Los Angeles, then flew Qantas down to Sydney, Australia. We crossed the equator and international date line at about the same place. I got a motel and took a train to Sydney Harbor. I saw the Opera House, Harbor Bridge and the Rocks (Old Town).

My purpose in going to Australia was to see the southern stars and constellations. Monte Wilson of the Astronomical Society of New South Wales picked me up at the motel. We rode through the Blue Mountains to Wiruna, the Dark Sky Site three hours northwest of Sydney, to the South Pacific Star Party.

The weather was great all three nights. I got to stay in the house, referred to as the "White House" because they let Americans stay there. There was a couple named Tom and Lucy from Texas who proved invaluable.

I saw the southern stars. I saw the Southern Cross and the Coalsack next to it. I saw the Magellanic Clouds. They were fainter than I imagined. I saw the bright stars Canopus, Alpha Centauri and Achernar.

Tom kept finding galaxies and nebulas in Tony Buckley's 20 inch. We looked at Jupiter and Saturn. Scorpius was straight up in the sky. The Milky Way's hub in Sagittarius was high. I looked into our galaxy's thickest part, something I only saw along the horizon back home.

Southern constellations are abstract. Tracing out Argo and Centaurus would have taken more time. What stayed with me were seeing Scorpius overhead and seeing Scorpius and Orion in the sky at the same time. Orion was upside down.

I was impressed at how close Canopus is to Sirius and how the Southern Cross is not far below Scorpius.

The southern sky is more spectacular than the northern because you also get the bright winter stars.

I will not forget walking out of the house that first night and seeing the southern sky for the first time. It was ablaze with stars!

Treasurer Max Gardner drove me back to Sydney. He took me to his fabulous home and showed me some of the city. Sydney is beautiful! We crossed the Harbor Bridge, driving on the left side.

Australia is a constitutional monarchy. Max explained that it is part of the British Commonwealth, that the Queen is head of state.

Sydney is about halfway between the equator and the south pole.
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#754211 - 03/29/12 03:48 PM Re: Australian star party [Re: Jim Colyer]
Judie Quilting Editor Offline
BellaOnline Editor
Shark

Registered: 10/04/07
Posts: 368
Wow Jim thanks for that incredible description of what you were able to see in the southern skies. We Aussies take that for granted (naturally). One of my favorite past-times as a child would be to put a blanket on the lawn in the backyard and lie on it, and just watch the stars. Occassionally you would see a satelite zooming past, and very occassionally a shooting star.

I've been outback on numerous occassions and it really is amazing to see the night sky and it's multitude of stars, without any disruption from city lighting. I always see the southern night sky as a huge night parking lot.

Jim, I'm so glad you enjoyed your stay here in Oz, and I hope you would like to return some day. You're most welcome.

Cheerio for now

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