Surprisingly, the Perth Observatory has been in existence for over 150 years. It is further interesting, that the Perth Observatory is part of skynet which means astronomers can book time to view stars, and from what I believe – that don’t even have to be on site to do so.
Perth Observatory can be found in the Kalamunda Shire, on the outskirts of Perth. Thanks to a community day they hosted, I decided to make my way over to see what this place was all about. Notably, I was aware of the open day thanks to an events article I had posted online a few weeks prior to the event.
When the Observatory hosts an open day, they have – on average 300 to 600 people. I am not sure if it was a result of my article, or a result of many social media plugins, but when we were about to leave at 10 am, a notification came up on FaceBook that the parking lot was full. Twenty minutes later, another post came up saying that there were over 150 people waiting for the local shuttle. Our decision was changed to later in the afternoon.
It was about 2:00 pm when we arrived. I thought 2 hours was plenty of time to see the venue. However, to my surprised the road was still blocked with cars which led us to wait in the car for 30 minutes. Thanks to good fortune, I was able to turn around the narrow road and park at the bottom of the hill. One could always do with a little exercise. I soon learnt, after speaking to some volunteers, that they had over 4500 people visit!
They were not prepared for that!
The observatory consists of a range of telescopes. The Lowell telescope is situated at the top of a 4 or 5 story building. It is on loan from the USA and the deal was that if they built a base (house) for it, then Perth Observatory can use the telescope. Since then, it has been used for many interstellar observations.
At the base of the Lowell telescope are a few other buildings. One had two telescopes which was hooked up to skynet which is operated by the University of North Carolina. To date, I have not found information to how someone could access it, but I am sure that when I do, I will write about it.
Apart from the robotic telescopes, the was another telescope that was well dated. Seeing what people used over 100 years ago was intriguing, especially to see all the old tools just to see the night sky. Astronomy has evolved over the years.
One can book night tours throughout the year. After speaking to Roger, I found that many of the tours are booked out. It seems the everyone is interested in star gazing of late. Being a Not-For-Profit organization, and run by volunteers, this is fantastic because I know to well our NFP’s struggle to stay ahead of the bread line.
Overall, I was pretty happy with the day. Of course, there were a lot of people and a lot of kids. However, I think I would be one to book in a night tour to see the stars a little closer than through a camera lens.
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