On Saturday evening the worrying clouds cleared to provide a wonderful night sky for Perth’s  Astrofest. Held at Curtin University and organised by ICRAR this annual celebration of all things astronomical attracts thousands of eager visitors.

This year’s events included the ever-popular telescope viewing, with safe solar viewing in the afternoon then planets, the Moon and stars at night. The participation of keen amateur astronomers from the local clubs such as the Astronomical Group of Western Australia and the Stargazers Club WA meant that visitors could view a wide range of objects and try out an amazing range of telescopes.

ICRAR Outreach Manager discussing solar viewing with Astrofest visitors.
ICRAR Outreach Manager discussing solar viewing with Astrofest visitors.

ICRAR Outreach Manager discussing solar viewing with Astrofest visitors.

Inside the stadium were many stalls and activities. Visitors viewed stunning astronomy images in the astrophotography competition, were amazed by science fiction-inspired Lego models and could buy space-related goodies.  Scitech offered planetarium shows in their portable domes and presented their Science Show on the main stage. Also on the main stage were lively public talks including Indigenous Astronomy by CSIRO Astronomer Professor Ray Norris, Meteorites and Mars by Dr Gretchen Benedix from Curtin and Complex molecules in space – can we make beer out of them? by Dr Andrew Walsh from ICRAR.

CSIRO Astronomer Ray Norris giving his Indigenous Astronomy talk to an enthusiastic audience at Astrofest.
CSIRO Astronomer Ray Norris giving his Indigenous Astronomy talk to an enthusiastic audience at Astrofest.

CSIRO Astronomer Ray Norris giving his Indigenous Astronomy talk to an enthusiastic audience at Astrofest.

Numerous institutions and organisations including ICRAR, CAASTRO, Perth Observatory, UWA, Curtin and local amateur clubs had stands to provide information and discuss anything astronomy-related. The SKA stand, staffed by ICRAR and CSIRO folk, was particularly popular (meaning it was packed all night) as children could make their very own SKA dish in Lego to take home.

CSIRO's Dr Phil Crosby helping some children construct their own Lego SKA antennas.
CSIRO's Dr Phil Crosby helping some children construct their own Lego SKA antennas.

CSIRO’s Dr Phil Crosby helping some children, including an Angry Bird, construct their own Lego SKA antennas.

Children building SKA antennas in Lego at the SKA stand.
Children building SKA antennas in Lego at the SKA stand.

Children building SKA antennas in Lego at the SKA stand.

For those of you in Sydney you don’t have to wait long for your chance to take part in a similar event. Macquarie University are running their popular Astronomy Open Night on Saturday 5 April. Bookings are encouraged.

Astrofest Coordinator, Kirsten Gottsschalk from ICRAR helping out some interstellar visitors to Astrofest.
Astrofest Coordinator, Kirsten Gottsschalk from ICRAR helping out some interstellar visitors to Astrofest.

Astrofest Coordinator, Kirsten Gottsschalk from ICRAR helping out some interstellar visitors to Astrofest.

Thanks to ICRAR and all the sponsors for organising and running such a fantastic public event.

2 comments

  1. Members of the Astronomical Society of WA (http://aswa.info) had a great time too. We were kept busy all night talking about astronomy and answering questions. Can’t wait for Astrofest 2015!

  2. Great story and photos. What a wonderful event. It was terrific to see Ray Norris again. Thank you for sending him over to WA for the night!

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