Over the past 2 years, the Ballarat Observatory has been improving and updating its education and outreach programs, in addition, building up its events, to create awareness among the general public in regional Victoria.
A little over a year ago we updated our website and branding, to include engaging imagery and more in-depth information about what the Observatory offers.
Our themed school holiday programs with hands-on activities and the use of our 3D Astrotour theatre aim to teach kids some of the basics concepts in science and astronomy in particular, from the basics of light and optics, to exploration of the outer planets.
Despite being run solely by volunteers we have been open to the public 6 days a week and we have seen an increase in school and community groups.
The Observatory also played host to some well-known speakers – Prof. Jeremy Mould, Prof. Fred Watson, to name a few! We thank them both for taking the time to come down and enlighten us with their knowledge.
We have continued with our Starry Nights events and for the first time ever in Ballarat we have themed our Summer Starry Night – The Sci-Fi Event. Unlike a comic convention, this event is about promoting and educating the public about the relationship between science, science-ficiton and their role in society, with the emphasis being on science.
Maintenance works and painting of the historic buildings, has seen them come to life and in due time we hope to expand our facility to include more exhibits and new technology.
The 2013 International Foto Biennale was held in Ballarat and the Observatory was selected to exhibit works as part of the event. Members from the ASV and BAS, also included astrophotography works as part of the Celestial Kaleidoscope exhibit.
Given that light pollution is becoming an issue in growing cities like Ballarat, we have launched a light pollution survey (led by Judith Bailey) to monitor the changing levels of light pollution and its effects.
In the midst of all the activity, we found time to present a Poster at the AUSTRALIAN COLONIAL ASTRONOMY seminar as part of the Melbourne Observatory’s 150th Anniversary.