Sydney Observatory Fun

Sydney Travel Blog

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Last night we paid a visit to the Sydney Observatory.  I was always sort of interested in checking out the place, but when some friends of ours  gave us a 2 for 1 coupon for the night viewing, we thought it was only proper to use it to honour their generosity.  Seeing that Sunday was shaping out to be a clear spring evening, we made a booking and headed down for a viewing of the stars.

I can't recommend this showing enough!  I was so impressed with what a mere $15 per person (and us with a half off coupon!) would get.  We started the evening with a viewing of the night sky with the naked eye.  Basically, the group was led outside and we all craned our necks upward.  The guide had a super strong laser pointer and was able to trace the Southern Cross, the constellation of Scorpio, and he pointed out Jupiter.  The Southern Cross was easy enough to find on our own, but I was surprised at how large the scorpion is and how easy it is for me to spot it in the sky now.  I also didn't realize how large Jupiter appears in the sky at the moment. 

Our guide then brought us inside to climb up to the highlight of the evening: the antique, working telescope.  It had a telephoto lens 4m long and an aperture of about 11 inches (kinda forgot this figure so it's a ballpark).  It was over a hundred years old and yet it was still considered an excellent telescope in the field of astronomy.  Our guide told us it had the highest rating of rarity according to the international rating standard for rare objects putting it in the same rarity category as the Mona Lisa.  I'm not able to recollect all the details for why it's that rare, but I heard enough that night from our guide to understand that I was in the presence of something quite remarkable.  He even had to use gloves to operate the telescope because no one is allowed to touch it.  He aimed the telescope at the moon and we all got a turn to eyeball the craters up close and pin-sharp.

The next telescope he brought us to was a more modern one with a built in computer.  On this one he showed us Jupiter and its four moons, Antares, and the Jewel Cluster which is a cluster of different coloured stars.  The different colours signify that the stars are of varying ages making it an unusual phenomenon. 

The evening ended off with some sub-par 3D movies about the universe, but the awesomeness of the telescope viewings made the whole night completely worthwhile.  I'd really like to do this again in a few months when the positions of the planets have changed.  If you're ever in Sydney I highly recommend a visit to the Sydney Observatory.
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photo by: Sunflower300