Visiting the AAT....

I haven't posted anything about the bushfires up in the Warrumbungle National Park, especially those that tore through Siding Spring Observatory, my old workplace. Part of the reason was that I was too stunned - I was chatting about this on a skype call this morning, talking about the tidal streams of the Sagittarius Dwarf Galaxy, and remembering that it was discovered at the Anglo-Australian Telescope. It was 46C in Sydney today, and living on the edge of the bush, the thoughts of fires tearing through the suburbs is very scary.

Anyway, a fellow welsh person visited the observatory today.
(pinched from Amanda Bauer's blog)
 Prime Minister Julia Gillard was born in Barry, not far from where my brother lives. But just behind her in this picture is the AAO Director's Cottage, a place where I have slept a few times after very long nights observing with the scary 2dF instrument, and instrument whose robot tried to attack me more than the one in Saturn 3.

But the picture that hurt is this one
This is the lodge, where I (and many, many others) dozed through the day after observing. Those split open rooms facing you are the bedrooms. I slept there so many times.

More importantly. in the top right, the fire is still burning, and many people have lost their homes.  While we should be pleased the telescopes have survived, we should feel for the people who now have to pick up the pieces.

In closing, on the left-hand side of the picture is the Wedding Cake, one of my fav walks at the telescopes. I am looking forward to going back and doing it again.


  1. A tragic sight. But, lives were spared and the firefighters put their lives on the line to save the telescopes...A very BIG thank you to them...and when the fire season is over, I think The AAO should hold a thank you party for them.

  2. That a fire would hit the AAO one day was an inevitability and it seems clear now that years of advanced planning saved the instruments.

    I learned several things during this unfortunate fire: a simple blog site (Amanda Bauer's), with hour by hour updates, can keep an audience in touch with what was happening; whilst Twitter (a medium about which I have misgivings) revealed astronomers accessing the observatory webcams and monitoring instrument data in real time - giving minute by minute descriptions! Some of this was picked up later by the traditional media but most was not.

    I hope you get back real soon.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Falling into a black hole: Just what do you see?

Journey to the Far-Side of the Sun

Proton: a life story