Star Struck in the Murchison

Keen star gazers in awe of the Murchison Sky

Keen star gazers in awe of the Murchison Sky

The best star show in Western Australia is coming to the Murchison this September.

Amateur and professional star gazers from across the state will converge on Murchison Settlement on September 5 from 11am for the third Murchison Astronomy Festival.

The festival will bring together scientists, Aboriginal elders and star gazing enthusiasts to listen to talks, learn about Aboriginal culture, dine and, most importantly, lose themselves in the magic of a Murchison night sky.

Festival chairman Sandy McTaggart said the Murchison was renowned as one of the best places in the world to witness night skies in all their dazzling brilliance, unspoiled by man-made light sources.

He encouraged festival goers to bring their own telescopes for expert advice, or use the telescopes provided.

Mr McTaggart said the festival would feature a line-up of experts to explain the marvels of the night sky.

“We’ve got keynote speakers such as Dr Bärbel Koribalski and Dr James Allison from CSIRO’s Astronomy and Space Science,” Mr McTaggart said.

“Dr Koribalski will explain the ‘bridges between galaxies’ - apparently some galaxies exist in relative isolation while others lie beside companion galaxies or are in the process of merging.

“And Dr Allison will show how astronomers are using the Australian SKA Pathfinder to look for small changes in the radio waves from distant super massive black holes.”

Other speakers include CSIRO’s Rob Hollow, who will give an overview of progress in both the Australian SKA and the International SKA projects, as well as Federal Member for Durack Melissa Price MP, who will give a brief Government perspective. Ken Lawson from the Geraldton Astronomy Group will speak about the hardware and techniques required to start astrophotography and nightscape photography.

Festival-goers can also join Yamaji speakers by the Astro fire-pit for an Aboriginal celestial tour of the night sky, conducted to the haunting atmospheric mix of the didgeridoo and guitar by musicians Mulks and Deutekom.

Dinner will be a sumptuous ‘Astro-Feast’ prepared by renowned Murchison chefs. Lunch, dinner, and smoko are included in the ticket price. During the day participants can watch Yamaji artists at work, visit the Murchison Museum to witness local historical artefacts and photographs, or experience the beauty of a dazzling wildflower season on the Murchison Botanical Walk, which was opened in 2014 and provides a detailed insight to the plants and shrubs in Murchison.

“Bring your swag and camp under the stars and you too will understand why the CSIRO and other international astronomers are star struck by the Murchison,” Mr McTaggart said

“Alternately accommodation is available at the Murchison Settlement and nearby Wooleen Station Stay”.

Tickets cost $80 per adult, $60 13-16 years, $15.00 under 12 or $190 for a family of four and booking is essential. Please visit the website or call (08) 99637999 for bookings.