Wednesday, July 22, 2009

starry starry night

One of the coolest things about our four days in Mudgee was our Friday night trek out to the Observatory. Wowsers. Now, while it was a lot more rustic than I'd expected {we treked up a dark hill, behind a house and saw a tin shed an a couple of domes on the side of a hill - and climbed up and down ladders to get the view} but oh my, what a sky.

Far away from the city lights the sky was just bedazzled with stars - it was amazing and gob-smackingly gorgeous. And because the observatory was privately-owned, the owner was there happy to share his knowledge and love of the stars. Through telescopes I saw a jewelbox of constellations, incredible nebulas and a star in its death-throes {damned spectacular}.

The owner had a helper there with him and between them they had the coolest thing ever - a laser pointer with a 20km reach. That meant I could say, "Where's Scorpio?" and they'd point to it and draw around it - it was so clear and cool.

There was a little cloud which obscured Saturn for most of the time we were there. But we went into the shed and watched a 15 minute DVD on Saturn and when we came out it was peeking out to say hi. Because nothing was too much trouble, these blokes then moved the telescopes to focus on the planet and we saw it in all its glory. It was almost side-on, so the rings were merely lines dissecting the planet - but still, dead cool.

All this for $10 per adult and $5 for kids. Best money I've ever spent.


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