Stargazing world record attempt in action as thousands gather across Australia


May 23, 2018 19:16:31

People all around Australia will be gathering and looking at the sky tonight in an attempt to break a Guinness World Record for stargazing.

The current world record for the most people stargazing across multiple venues, set in 2015 by the Australian National University, is 7,960 people across 37 locations.

Tonight, with more than 200 stargazing parties registered and thousands of telescopes delivered across the country, organisers say another world record could be within reach.

“We have to beat both the amount of people, and the amount of locations,” Brad Tucker, the astrophysicist and astronomer from ANU who coordinated 2015’s world record, and was also involved in planning tonight’s attempt, told the ABC.

“We expect a great turnout all across the country — there’s 5,000 alone here at the Canberra site — there’s tonnes around Sydney, Western Australia, I think Birdsville even has 100 people.

“There’s one town in South Australia where the population’s 500, and so far 400 are turning up.

“It’s really a nationwide effort.”

For the world record to happen, all participants need to be looking through a telescope or a pair of binoculars for 10 minutes, starting from 8:40pm AEST.

“Because not everyone has one, we purchased 30,000 telescopes — and all 30,000 have been shipped across the country,” Dr Tucker said.

“Obviously there are going to be some sites that don’t qualify due to weather and stuff … but 30,000 telescopes arrived in the Port of Brisbane two weeks ago, and now they are all over Australia.”

Keen astronomers around Australia started setting up in the early afternoon, and most parties are scheduled to start at 7:00pm.

“It’s going to be a fantastic night, and luckily most of the country is clear,” Dr Tucker said.

While a lot of the country saw clear skies in the lead-up to tonight, some parties on the east coast were not so lucky.

Meteorologist and ABC weather presenter Nate Byrne said a high-pressure system over the middle of the country means there is likely to be clear skies in outback areas, but that same high could cause clouds in the south-east.

“There’s a lot of cloud over some really populated areas,” he said.

For the world record attempt, Dr Tucker said it is likely stargazers will be watching the Moon, but there are other things for amateur astronomers to look out for.

“In the early evening to the east there’s Jupiter, in the early evening to the west there’s Venus … and then Saturn’s rising later, so there’s lots of great things to see in the night-time sky,” Dr Tucker said.

“It’s going to be out of this world.”







First posted

May 23, 2018 18:43:33