**Published on behalf of Jamie Maslen (Planetarium Education Group)
The Sliding Springs Observatory (SSO) held its annual StarFest event on the 3-5 October this year. It is now 50 years since the observatory opened in 1964.
As part of the festivities the Planetarium Education Group were invited by Fred Watson and the ANU to bring their 8m portable planetarium along for the weekend. The planetarium was set up at the base of the telescope and ran programs every 30 to 40 minutes. The numbers were limited to 60 people in each session and almost every show was at capacity. Four different shows were played, including ‘Stories in the Stars’ and ‘Tilt’, which proved very popular and had the audiences raving about them as they left.
The intention of the ANU was to attract more family groups and inspire young children. They were thrilled at the benefit the planetarium provided and have already requested to do the same again next year.
Also attending the StarFest was Australian astronaut Andy Thomas. Andy commented on the value of teaching astronomy to young children and sparking their interest to learn more.
“Astronauts are born from an early introduction to the wonders of space and your program could could be the start of a valuable career. You should be commended for your valuable program” – Andy Thomas