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Australia Day eclipse

Australia Day, 26th January 2009, Perth
Australia Day, 26th January 2009, Perth CREDIT: Megan
Yesterday was Australia Day: an excuse for a big party, and some more public outreach. Here in Perth there was a big fireworks display on the river at 9pm, just after dark. There also happened to be a partial solar eclipse!

I took my old Russian telescope down to the foreshore and spent the morning helping set things up in the new Family Zone. Run by the City of South Perth, the Family Zone is an attempt to encourage families back to the foreshore for Australia Day. It seems that the high levels of drunken behaviour in recent years has put a lot of people off.

The foreshore got really busy during the afternoon, but it was comparatively civilised in the Family Zone. It was a large fenced off area with rides for kids, a stage show, and absolutely no alcohol. I shared a spot with two outreach people from Scitech for the afternoon. It was quiet at first, but during the two hours of the eclipse we spoke to more than 700 people. They'd brought along a couple of boxes of pinhole cameras and gave away a lot. It was good fun, and well worth the effort.

Partial eclipse, 26th January 2009, Perth
Partial eclipse, 26th January 2009, Perth CREDIT: Megan
The image here is a photograph of the eclipse at about maximum coverage, roughtly 22%. As I've said before, never look at the Sun through a telescope! This was done by projection through my little telescope. Point it at the Sun and use a piece of card to view a projection of the Sun.

I took the telescope home after the eclipse finished at 7pm and walked past a large fight on the foreshore. There were huge numbers of scantily clad teenagers and twenty-somethings around, all pissed. Lots of police too. It's no wonder that families aren't going to the foreshore for the fireworks anymore. That's what the Family Zone is trying to achieve. Apparently, they've got funding to run an area twice as big next year!

The fireworks were good, too. Half an hour of explosives let off from barges in the middle of the river and some of the taller buildings in the city. After it finished it was about half nine and I'd been on my feet for more than 12 hours, so I walked home, had a shower and fell asleep. I couldn't keep my eyes open today!

So, three weeks into the International Year of Astronomy, and that's three events already! I knew this year was going to be busy.... I need a holiday!

Posted by Megan on Tuesday 27th Jan 2009 (12:12 UTC) | Add a comment | Permalink


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