North West Slopes, NSW audio tour: Highlights from the Virtual Solar System Drive with Fred Watson

Highlights from the Virtual Solar System Drive with Fred Watson

Driving Tour

60 mins

About the Tour

Drive around the Astronomy Capital of Australia with Fred Watson, Astronomer-in-Charge of Australia's biggest telescope for 20 years, and Marnie Ogg, the director of Dark Sky Traveller. This driving tour takes you along the world’s largest Virtual Solar System Drive from Coonabarabran's Visitor Information Centre to Siding Spring Observatory.

As you travel along the route, Fred and Marnie will point out the three-dimensional planet models displayed on huge billboards, scaled relative to the Anglo-Australian Telescope dome at Siding Springs Observatory, which represents the Sun. They’ll also teach you about our solar system as you travel through the virtual one.

Fred Watson is Australia’s first Astronomer-at-Large and an award-winning science communicator. He has an asteroid named after him, 5691 Fredwatson, but says that if it hits the Earth, it won’t be his fault.

Tour Producer


Marnie Ogg

For nearly 30 years, Marnie has been bringing tourism, science and people together. A passion for travel, teamed up with partner astronomer Fred Watson, they have experienced astronomy destinations in more than 80 countries. However, the natural asset Australia has with the abundant and clear night skies has led her to create unique Australian experiences.
The combination of her tour company - Dark Sky Traveller - and her role as the Founder and CEO of the Australasian Dark Sky Alliance encourage people to get out and enjoy the pristine nighttime environment Australia has on offer.

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Major Landmarks

  • Virtual Solar System planets

  • geological landmarks

  • Gomeroi landmarks

Directions to Starting Point

This tour starts in Coonabaraban at the Warrumbungle Visitors Centre. Look for the Little Telescope on John Street.

Show Directions
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Places to stop along the way

There are 5 designated planets, on this journey from Coonabarabran to the sun at Siding Spring Observatory. The best places to take photos are at Saturn and on Siding Spring Mountain where you'll see Earth, Venus and Mercury.

Best time of day

This is a day time experience, finishing at Siding Spring Observatory. Please check the Siding Spring Observatory Facebook page for opening times.

If you want to do the complete tour, plan your arrival at the Observatory with at least 45minutes on site.


Please be careful when stopping at the planets, and pulling in and out of the designated areas with the billboards. If you're travelling at dusk or dawn, watch out for Kangaroos. They are plentiful and can do significant damage.


Very informative and enjoyable. Worked really well on the drive to the telescopes

Posted by Anonymous Explorer , about 1 year ago
Preview mode limited to first 3 locations.
Highlights from the Virtual Solar System Drive with Fred Watson