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Old 04-11-2009, 11:58 PM
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ngcles
The Observologist

ngcles is offline
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Billimari, NSW Central West
Posts: 1,640
Been there ...

Hi Michelle,

I work at Sydney Observatory as a night guide and have been there for ten years now. I work about six nights a month.

No, the programme is not aimed specifically at kids -- we aim it at the crowd that night whoever they are. We get a lot of school/scout/interest groups and we cater specifially each group to address their level and age. However most groups and visitors are a mixed-bag of members of the public. If there are some/many kids we have some stuff that we include especially for them. If it's all adults we step up a gear or two. Generally, there is something for everyone at all levels of intelligence, age and knowledge level.

As for the brightness of the sky, yep the sky brightness makes it hard for us to look a really faint objects but happily there is almost always enough bright stuff from the Moon, planets, double stars, open and globular clusters and the occasional planetary nebula or things like M42 that show well enough to keep people happy. When the observatory was built there (1858), there was much less light-pollution. In fact light pollution as we know and hate was hardly contemplated. Also because one of its main purposes was keeping acurate time for navigational purposes, it had to be visible to the ships in the harbour. So, its on the highest natural point south of the harbour.

If you can, pick a night a night or two either side of 1st quater moon when it is at its best but not overpowering the whole sky. If you don't want kids in the group, stay outside school holidays and if you want a weekend night with fewer kids aim for a Sunday. Picking a date with those criteria in mind(its up to you of course), Sunday 22nd November fits the bill and as an added bonus, for your guide you get ...


Best,

Les D
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