I went there as part of the Canberra Astronomy Society's setup to show people the night sky. At 6 the sky seemed almost 100% cloud, but by the time I got there (couldn't turn around in the gridlock!) it had completely cleared. Putting aside chronic light pollution, the sky was incredibly clear with very good "seeing".
But the hit of the night was definitely Saturn. People's reactions when they saw it was invariably "Oh my god" "It's so clear" "It looks like a sticker". And they were right - it was the clearest I have ever seen Saturn. The sky was so still and sharp. Listen to some typical reactions:
|This photo is pretty close to what people were |
seeing last night, but with several moons also visible.
But the signage to the stargazing was very small and almost hidden - sure many people didn't even know we were there.
At 9:30, I finally packed up the scope and went in to see what the show itself was about. A handful of market stalls. Food sales only though the cafe and one stall outside selling gozleme. Great puppet shows by the wonderful Marianne Mettes and family. But otherwise, disappointing. People told me they queued for half an hour just to order the gozleme, then had another half hour wait to get it, just to find it was VERY ordinary.
Marianne and a bunch of other friends I stumbled on came out to another impromptu session with the telescope, including some photography. So I had a long but fun night, with plenty of new converts to the wonders of our night sky. But I can see many others were probably disappointed. It was a great idea Museum folk, but maybe you need more of them to space out the crowds a bit, but more food outlets and content. Oh - and far better promotion for the sky viewing please!
There is a public viewing planned by the Astronomical Society next Friday 22nd up on Mt Stromlo from 7pm. Be early - it can get crazy up there. And please leave any white light sources off. Helps to wind the brightness way down on your smartphones too. Oh - and download a copy of Star Walk, Pocket Universe or Distant Suns.