You may ask why did we name this blog Gum Trees and “Galaxies”. Well the title is nicely alliterative and the blog is about us hitching up a teardrop trailer heading bush but Galaxies? OK, the main reason is that I am a big technology geek and have a lot of general interest in many things relating to space and science fiction. Unfortunately for S, I got to choose where we were going on our current trip so we are visiting a few places we have been close to but have not visited in the past.
An example are these billboards on the highways around Coonabarabran I have seen on our previous travels;
These are part of the “Worlds largest virtual solar system drive”. A 1 to 38 million scale model of our solar system centered on the Anglo Australian Telescope at Siding Springs. The billboards are located on the roads the correct scale distance from the dome at the observatory. The dome represents the size of the sun in the scale model.
Siding Springs Observatory (SSO) has a number of optical telescopes, the largest being this one with a mirror at 3.9 meters and you can visit for free to view the actual telescope from the visitors area. I am always intrigued by the construction and engineering of places and in awe of the people who did the original build. The visitor area has simple videos and posters detailing what the purpose of the telescope is and how it has been innovative and kept up to date since being completed in 1974. More information can be seen here.
The visitor centre also has an educational astronomy display, great for kids, but fees apply. The centre also has an great café, some of the best scones we have tried. I do thank the staff in the café because I did leave my glasses and retrieved them the next day. Oh and the views of the Warrumbungles are amazing. The telescope is adjacent to the Warrumbungle national park, Australia’s only dark sky park where we spent a couple of nights but more on that in another post.