Thank you to Kathleen Hayes for sharing her experience.
Recently I was fortunate enough to be able to visit Mt Burnett observatory, located conveniently close to Melbourne, and learn about astronomy through hands on experience!
The big 18 inch telescope, originally built for the Monash University physics department in 1972 was unfortunately out of action but we were able to go inside it and look around. There are plans to turn the observatory into a planetarium very soon, so even on cloudy nights visitors will still get to experience the stars.
After the tour we got to use the portable dobsonian telescopes set up outside. Some of the highlights were Mars, a beautiful cluster of stars aptly called ‘the jewel box’ and my favourite sight, Saturn! It was amazing to look through the telescopes and see the wonders of space, with my feet still on Earth.
This is a community run project and all the organizers were enthusiastic, friendly and very knowledgeable. Astronomy is rather a unreachable science topic for many, so it’s great to have a place where people can get involved with some hands on science without the hefty price tag. For those interested in attending the kids night is on every secondary Saturday and adult members meet weekly on Fridays.
Membership is $50 for an adult. Partners and children over 12 of full members join for $25 and children under 12 belonging to full members are free.