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  • Dr Toner Stevenson

Stars for your Valentine: an outreach to remember

The stars shone bright on14 Feb at Centennial Parklands for Sydney City Skywatchers first outreach telescope viewing night of the year. Over 200 people enjoyed a romantic sunset picnic and stargazing. We all watched the sun set over the city as the Moon, Mars and stars became more visible and the silhouettes of bats flew across the darkening sky above Centennial Park.

Through telescopes we viewed Orion, and the Great Orion nebula; the Jewel Box; the Moon and the Pleiades star cluster. Most attendees managed to take a memorable image of the Moon through a telescope lens, an example taken with my smartphone is shown in this post, another tangible memory of their night together.

Moon 14 Feb 2019, taken with iphone through telescope

One of the special aspects of the evening was the Aboriginal Peoples night sky presentation by 'Shared Knowledge', a local Aboriginal organisation who present cultural workshops. Our guide explained language, how Aboriginal Peoples from different areas of Australia had their own constellation stories in a highly engaging, illustrated presentation.

Thanks so much to Christian Eckhardt who organised a well-run event, and all the staff at the Botanic Gardens and Centennial Parklands. Many thanks to our Skywatchers society for volunteering and bringing your telescopes to present astronomy to the public, especially Ann Cairns and the wonderful Elizabeth, Ross, Trish, Prabina, Matt, Alex, Susan, George, Hillary, Ron, Iver and all Sydney City Skywatcher supporters on the night.

As Elizabeth Cocking, our secretary, wrote:

" We all agreed that, as far as outreach events go, this was certainly a magnificent night. The weather was perfect (for a change!!) the number of people was just right, and they were keen. I took a few names so hopefully they will come to the meetings. The talks were good. It was certainly a lovely evening ….. as I said in my email to Christian, the organiser, maybe love was in the air !! This is something we will certainly continue with.I’m looking forward to the next one in May. Thank you again for your time and effort. It is very much appreciated."

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