This story began over a year and a half ago with a meeting in the Members Lounge to discuss the 2012 Transit of Venus. From that meeting a Night Talk by Dr Nick Lomb and Dr Fred Watson was born and a Members road trip to witness this once in a lifetime event.

2012 Venus transit from Australian Museum
Image: Carl Bento
© Australian Museum

Serena and I met the Australian Museum Members out the front of the Museum along with Dr Fred Watson, Dr Nick Lomb and tour coordinator Marnie Ogg and headed off in our coach driven by John (such a lovely man) for a private tour of the Sydney Observatory. Sydney Observatory currently has a really interesting exhibition on about the history of the Transit of Venus which is well worth visiting. Nick Lomb gave the group a quick talk about the history of the observatory and his time as Curator of the Observatory. From there we split into 2 groups and set off to explore not only the exhibition but the beautiful working telescope owned by the Observatory.

Telescope at Sydney Observatory
Dr Nick Lomb, curator of Sydney Observatory showing a group of Members the telescope owned and operated by the Observatory Image: Chanele Moss
© Australian Museum

We boarded the bus again and set off for the historic town of Goulburn. John provided commentary, history lessons (James Barnet not only built the Australian Museum but also the Goulburn Court House, the Cowra Court House and much more!) and jokes on the trip down. After a quick lunch stop (at the Paragon Café), a history lesson from Nick about Goulburn’s role in the 1874 Transit and a photo opportunity we boarded the bus for Mount Stromlo Observatory in Canberra.

About 10 minutes out from Mount Stromlo the bus decided to misbehave and cease working, but not to worry we had an amateur meteorologist on board who pointed out some interesting cloud formations over Mount Stromlo as well as some amateur bird watchers who pointed out some fascinating birds and of course Fred Watson and Nick Lomb answered astronomy questions.

It was decided that we would skip Mount Stromlo Observatory that afternoon and we headed back into Canberra to check into our hotel, have some dinner and freshen up before hearing a talk by Fred Watson on Greening the Universe (I had no idea about the amount of space junk floating around our outer atmosphere and the impact of light pollution on our Observatories).

Next Post - Day 2...