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  • Writer's pictureCheryl Osborne

Janus, Zephyrus, Zeus

Updated: Aug 8, 2019

At Perth Observatory, Bickley the weather gods were unkind. We didn't get to gaze at the night sky through a telescope -though we did get to look down the first telescope to be installed in WA in 1901. The ceilings of the reception rooms were festooned with balloons, individually attached with sticky tape, in celebration of the 50thAnniversary of the Moon landing. There was time to browse historical documents, look at old instruments, photos from Astrofest, and a space mission time line before gathering to watch a video of the Moon landing and learn more about the importance of Australia's contribution via Parkes (still functioning) and Honeysuckle Creek (now decommissioned) in bringing the vision to the world. Then out into the night air, it wasn't too cold, and winking through the clouds was Zeus' alter ego 4Jupiter, to visit the"Lowell telescope", a 24-inch Boller and Chivers instrument, a climbof 59 steps (12 metres) to the dome.

Then off in another direction to a facility that housed the first telescope which was moved, with its original mount and dome, to the hills in 1968.

Retraced our steps to a halfway point between the two to view the smallest instrument, a Coronado (Solar) telescope, which needed an extra mount to be high enough to see out of the open dome. This telescope is trained on the sun and transmits mono real time images via a camera to a computer screen. Back to Reception for the promised hot chocolate, before heading sedately home through continuous drizzle, keeping a wary eye out for kangaroos. Thanks to the enthusiastic, knowledgeable and entertaining volunteers, it was a most interesting and informative evening.

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