A special evening with Alan Duffy celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing

Tuesday 13 August 2019, 6pm-7.30pm

Sydney, 9 August 2019: The Australian Museum (AM) will host a special night with Professor Alan Duffy, Lead Scientist of the Royal Institution of Australia, Australian Museum Eureka award winner, and Swinburne astrophysicist where Duffy will share his thoughts on the anniversary of the Moon landing and the future of our closest celestial body on Tuesday 13 August 2019 at 6.00 pm.

According to Professor Duffy, the moon is a fundamental part of our future here on earth and to the progress of humankind.

“We have been drawn to the Moon since our earliest days, with the oldest surviving knowledge of this neighbour from Aboriginal astronomy confirming it has been a source of enduring fascination for tens of thousands of years,” Professor Duffy said.

“It has captivated our spirits and imaginations, but it is also a critical stepping stone to our greater exploration of outer space. It is a refuelling station and launch pad for future missions as, energetically speaking, when you reach the Moon you are halfway to everywhere,” he added.

Duffy will also discuss some of Australia’s greatest space exploration achievements, the amazing developments in space science since the Apollo Moon landing and the role the Australian Space Agency has in the future of Moon exploration.

“Three Australians have made it into space; Australian scientists guided Curiosity down onto Mars; and this year in outback WA we are building the largest, most powerful, radio telescope ever constructed. With the launch of the Australian Space Agency in 2018, it is an incredible time to be involved in space exploration,” he said.

There will be a Q & A session following the talk, and attendees will also be able to view a selection of lunar meteorites and iron meteorites from the AM Collection. Tickets are $30 per person and include welcome drink on arrival.

An Associate Professor in astrophysics at Swinburne University and a member of SABRE, the world’s first dark matter detector in the Southern Hemisphere at the Stawell Underground Physics Lab in Victoria, Alan received his PhD Astronomy from the University of Manchester, under Professor Richard Battye. He has won many awards and grants, and has been invited to speak or chair at over 27 conferences across Europe, South Africa and Australia.

Event details:

Talk: Alan Duffy on the Moon at the Australian Museum

Tuesday 13 August 2019, 6.00 pm – 7.30pm.
Tickets: $30 adults, $27.50 concession, $25 AM Members.

Fun Facts about Australia in Space

  • The Australian Museum has 755 meteorites in its Collection including the Adelie meteorite (the first meteorite found in Antarctica).
  • Moon Rocks: Some Moon rocks were gathered by astronauts or unmanned space craft from Lunar landings, but others reached Earth as meteorites, being ejected from the Moon’s surface due to meteorite impacts. There are two main kinds of Moon rocks – pale anorthosites making up the Lunar highlands, and darker coloured basalts forming lava flows on the smooth Lunar plains and basins (mare). There are also compacted accumulations (breccias) of anorthositic and sometimes basaltic fragments which resulted from meteorite impact events.
  • Outstanding bill: Skylab, NASA’s first space station, failed to sustain its orbit and plummeted to Earth, headed for Australia. There was panic when NASA revealed it didn’t know exactly where the impact would be, but in the end most of it hit the Indian Ocean, with some pieces raining down on Esperance, WA (giving the town an enduring claim to fame). Although nobody was hurt and nothing was damaged, the Shire of Esperance did send NASA a $400 fine for littering, which they failed to pay.
  • Adelaide-born Andy Thomas became Australia’s first professional astronaut to travel into space, when he boarded NASA’s Endeavour space shuttle, spending 10 days in orbit. (The first Aussie in space was oceanographer Paul Scully-Power, in 1984). Andy went on to complete several NASA missions, including 141 days aboard the Russian space station Mir. Andy later took Australian artefacts to the International Space Station, including the watch of aviator Sir Charles Kingsford Smith, who made the first trans-Pacific flight in 1928, and a piece of wood from Mawson’s Hut in Antarctica. On his return, Thomas was appointed deputy chief of the NASA Astronaut Office. His final space mission was in 2005, during which he returned to the ISS. After 22 years with NASA, Andy Thomas retired in 2014.
  • Professor Brian Schmidt, a former astronomer at the Australian National University’s Mount Stromlo Observatory, received a Nobel Prize in 2011 for his discovery with Saul Perlmutter and Adam Riess that the universe is expanding ever faster. By studying supernovae to measure distances across the universe, they came to the discovery in 1998 that gravity works in a different manner from how experts had thought.
  • The Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex (CDSCC) is an outpost of NASA run by the CSIRO and had primary responsibility for landing the Curiosity rover on Mars. During what was dubbed the ‘seven minutes of terror’, the landing of the rover on the surface was fraught with the possibility of failure as it had never been practiced. Radio dishes across Australia listened in for the rover and relayed the message that it had landed and was operating successfully.
  • Proof that you don’t always need the latest equipment to achieve extraordinary things, South Australian William ‘Bill’ Bradfield became one of the greatest astronomical discoverers of the twentieth century. Using mostly backyard equipment, this amateur astronomer discovered 18 new comets and has been called the greatest comet hunter of all time. Bradfield was born on 20 June 1927 and grew up on a dairy farm in New Zealand. At age 15, he got his first telescope. After studying Mechanical Engineering at the University of New Zealand, Bradfield migrated to Australia, aged 25, as a rocket scientist. He worked for the Australian Department of Defence in Adelaide and remained in that job until he retired in 1986.

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