As part of this year’s Australian National Science Week, astronomy buffs travelled to remote Western Australia from near and far for the Murchison Astrofest – a one-day astronomy festival held at the Murchison Settlement on Saturday 17 August.
Murchison Shire is where our Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) can be found – home to facilities such as our ASKAP telescope, along with other international projects such as the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA), EDGES, and the future Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project.
Some of the star attractions at this year’s Astrofest included keynote speeches from ASKAP Project Scientist Lisa Harvey-Smith and winner of the 2012 Prime Minister’s Prize for Science, Professor Ken Freeman. Also featured was Ken Lawson from the Geraldton Astronomy Group, who provided vital tips on what to look for when buying your first optical telescope.
Throughout the day, activities also included guided walks with Wajarri Bush Professor Mr Alan Egan; a selection of Aboriginal bush foods, including an Emu egg omelette; and an exhibition of local artworks from Wajarri and non-Aboriginal artists.
In the evening a special night viewing session was held with 18 telescopes set up from the Geraldton Astronomy Group, the Geraldton Grammar School, the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) and the Astronomy Group of Western Australia. CSIRO’s Education Officer Rob Hollow also led a celestial tour of the sky, interpreting the Murchison skies to the haunting sounds of the digeridoo.
The night was capped off with live didgeridoo music, guitars, sing-a-longs and toasted marshmallows around the bonfire.
The Murchison Astrofest is held by the Murchison Shire Council, with support from CSIRO and a variety of other sponsors. To find out more about the Astrofest visit: www.murchisonastrofest.com.au
We acknowledge the Wajarri Yamaji people as the traditional owners of the MRO site.
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