• LOCATION 13 | Highlights from the Virtual Solar System Drive with Fred Watson

    Telescope road and Dark Sky Places

    Keep following the road as it curves.

    As we head towards the Warrumbungle National Park, you'll see why Coonabarbaran calls itself the Astronomy Capital of Australia.

    There are telescopes everywhere....we count 33.

    How many can you find?

    The first one is coming up just around this corner at the Sky Watch Observatory. There are two public observatories in Coonabarabran that are open for night sky tours. The Milroy and the Warrumbungle Observatory can both be booked online.

    Siding Spring Observatory itself is not open for stargazing. You can only visit during the day, but there is still lots to see.

    So why is Coonabarabran so good for stargazing? Its because the residents here actively protect their night skies. Let me explain.

    Have you ever tried to look for the stars when you're in the city? It's hard, right? Sometimes you may only see a handful of the brightest stars shining down at you. This may be one of the reasons you're out here now travelling across NSW, hoping to see the night sky.

    Even in the cities, all the stars that you can see at night in the country are there but are being hidden by a film of wasted light used in streetlights, outdoor house lights and even advertising. This light stops you seeing the stars, and may mean future generations never ever get to see the Southern Cross, the Milky Way or a planet crossing the night sky.

    The natural nighttime environment is important - not just so you can see the magnificent night sky, but so nocturnal animals can find food in the dark, insects can pollinate and birds can migrate in the cover of darkness as they have done for millions of years.

    Have you heard about Dark Sky Places?

    In 2015, The Warrumbungle Shire Council, and its neighbours, Dubbo, Coonamble and Gilgandra Shires, was designated as the first places in Australia to become a Dark Sky Place by the International Dark-Sky Association.

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Highlights from the Virtual Solar System Drive with Fred Watson