Looking to the stars

On May 23, 2018, hundreds of people gathered at three of Western Sydney University’s campuses to help break the world record for the most amount of people stargazing at the same time.

Organised by the ABC in partnership with the Australian National University, the event featured 285 star parties across Australia and saw an estimated 40,000 people across Australia simultaneously observe the moon through a telescope for 10 minutes.

All up, 14 universities, more than 100 schools, and eight observatories took part in the event, including WSU’s Penrith observatory.

WSU’s participants varied from university students, staff, families with kids, and amateur astronomers, who came to the observatory to take part in the event.

“I find it cool that more people are getting into astronomy. It’s a really interesting thing to learn about,” said David Butler, a WSU Bachelor of International Studies who is studying astrology as an elective.

People who came to the event either brought their own telescopes or bought one in the venue provided. Members of the Western Sydney Amateur Astronomy Group, a private club that’s partnered with the university, also came to the event and brought their own personal telescopes for the kids to view the moon with. The telescopes show high-depth images of the moon and possibly the viewable planets around us.

“Events like this help bring the community together, it’s fantastic,” said David. “There are so many unknowns and a lot of things we still don’t know about our universe.”

The event concluded with everyone gathered around in front of the observatory for a group photo to commemorate the event.

“I hope we can get more people into astronomy and into stargazing on a daily basis,” said Peter Nosworthy, the secretary of the Western Sydney Amateur Astronomy Group.

But no astronomy event is over without asking the final question – IS THE EARTH FLAT?

“The way the stars move prove to me that the earth is not flat. I can’t prove that the Earth is flat as all the proofs seem illogical,” said Peter.