Perth Girl About Town

11 November 2010

Perth Observatory

A couple of weeks ago I was thinking about what M and I were going to do on the fast impending weekend when I stumbled upon the idea of going to the Perth Observatory. We hadn’t been since we were little and were interested to see what it was like now that we are older. I jumped on their website and saw that they had a Star Viewing night on the weekend. Great I thought, I’ll just ring up and book us in for a couple of places. Little did I know that apparently the Perth Observatory is the place to be on a Saturday night and it was fully booked! The kind lady I spoke to on the phone mentioned she had 3 spots left on the Saturday night the week after and we could book tickets for then. So after handing over credit card details over the phone (It was $25 per person) and giving her my details, we received to tickets in the mail that week.
The conditions on the tickets stated that we need to arrive on time and wear clothes that were suitable for camping. It was quite a warm day so when M suggested that I swap my little cardigan I was going to take, for a jumper, I thought it was a bit of overkill but I would take one with me. We then drove for about 40 mins to get to Bickley in the hills. When we got out the car I was thanking M for being so responsible and telling me to bring my jumper, it was freezing cold! 

We went inside and while we were waiting for people to arrive we looked around the displays they had. This included things such as meteorites which had landed in WA and a star map from a long long time ago. When we had all arrived we were then split into four groups (cue school excursion feelings) and then we went up to the hill. 

After walking in the dark for 5 minutes into the bush (cue horror music) the four groups went to different telescopes so that we could see all of the different items. We had to let our eyes adjust to the darkness and flash photography was banned as it would ruin everyone’s night vision. Overall we saw a total of 5 things including Jupiter, a double star, something which was supposed to be stars with gas which looked like a tarantula, a cluster of stars and something else which escapes me right now. As you can tell, it left a lasting impression on us! M was having difficulty as he can't wink and when I told him to just cover one eye it was hard for him to focus. He told me he kept just seeing dots on the other side of the telescope. 

The whole viewing takes 90 minutes and by the end of it I was ready to go home. It was freezing cold and to be honest, I was pretty disappointed. I’m not sure what I expected but I thought I may be able to see more or a better picture at least.  Also, as it felt like a school excursion, I think we reverted back to how we felt at school! Also, the picture of the big telescope on their website is a bit deceiving as they only use this to take pictures and tour groups don’t get to go in there. 
If you wanted more details on going to the observatory their website has a brochure on when they are next holding their star viewing nights.  They also have day viewings but they show a video instead of looking through the telescopes.  I definitely respect the volunteers which ran the night, all of which were very knowledgeable and friendly.  It was good to do something different on a Saturday night but it is something you only do once I think.

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