Stargazing going strong

Jul 2, 2019 | Hinterland Life

In just two years the local astronomers have established a presence at Maleny Golf Club. The combination of dark clear skies and the Golf Club’s facilities has made it the number one site for astronomers to gather from both the Sunshine Coast and Brisbane. 

Convenor and Secretary of the Brisbane Astronomical Society, Dr Ken Wishaw says, “On good nights it is common to have up to twenty large telescopes here enjoying the beautiful skies that Maleny has to offer.”

Astronomers John Waugh and Doug Edwards, setting up telescopes for the world record attempt – image Shelley Waugh

Each month (weather permitting) the astronomers hold a public viewing night, and they love sharing their knowledge and their telescopes with the public. 

“We have developed our talks to cater for all comers regardless of age or previous knowledge,” Ken said. “Many people return each month, some as new members of the Brisbane Astronomical Society.”

Their biggest public night to date was for the Guinness Book of Records national attempt for the most people stargazing at one time. “We had 201 attendees become world record holders,” Ken shared.

“We also help people choose what telescope is right for them,” Ken continued. “Winter heralds the dry season and is also the time of the year when the core of our Milky Way Galaxy is overhead, so there are always plenty of objects to see. 

“Additionally, Jupiter and Saturn will be well placed to see over winter and spring.”

The telescopes at Maleny are the biggest public-accessible telescopes in Queensland. The four computer-controlled telescopes, each with a main mirror 33cm in diameter, capture over 3,000 times more light than the naked eye, giving spectacular views of the moon, planets and star clusters.   

Doug Edwards stargazing image Ken Wishaw

The next public night will be on Saturday July 6, weather permitting, of course.

It will consist of a short formal lecture followed by a laser-guided naked eye sky tour and telescope viewing.

“No experience or equipment is required, just curiosity and very warm clothing!” smiled Ken.

The Moon and Jupiter will be observable from Sunset and Saturn will be observable after 7.30pm.

While this is a free event, donations of $5 for an individual or $10 for a family help cover costs.

Further details and weather updates are at the Facebook site “Sunshine Coast Dark Sky Astronomers,” or the Brisbane Astronomical Society website: bas.asn.au



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