Greetings from the Bendigo Planetarium!
Recently we renewed our Memo Of Understanding with the Bendigo Astronomical Society (BDAS). Amongst other things, this agreement allows for monthly Sidewalk Astronomy nights to continue outside the building the planetarium is located, namely the Discovery Science and Technology Centre.
Besides these regular evenings, which attract an average audience of around 20 people, we also held a sidewalk night to view the Total Lunar Eclipse on Saturday 4 April. The night began around 9pm and we ended up leaving just before 1am! A good sized crowd was treated to not only an eclipsed Moon, but also a look at Jupiter and Saturn as well!
The MOU with the BDAS also allows for public presentations to held at the Discovery Centre on the first Wednesday of each month. So far this year we have had David Mould talk about his experience applying for the Mars One project, BDAS member John Wilkinson discuss the highlights of Solar Exploration in 2014, and Ballarat Astronomical Society member Judith Bailey presented ‘Saturn and its Satellites – a close approach’. All of these meetings have attracted around 30 people.
During April the Discovery Centre hosted the Victorian Astronomical Society Convention (VASTROC), which was attended by about 60 people. The weekend included a monster Sidewalk Astronomy night, complete with a Bendigo Planetarium session, a dinner with Clare Williams from the Mt Stromlo Observatory in Canberra, and many presenatations ranging from Black Holes to Cloud Forecasts for Astronomers!
The next VASTROC will be held in Ballarat in 2017.
We also ran the ‘Signatures In Space’ planetarium show in the last school holidays, where we showed how light can tell us all sorts of information about stars. This show ran to capacity (about 30 people) three times a day for two weeks and included some ‘hands on’ activities in the dome. This was a change from our usual presentation style, but was well received by both the public and staff alike, and something we plan to do for future planetarium shows.
During the upcoming school holidays we are looking at some of the darkest places in the Universe, and will include plunging the planetarium into complete darkness for a few minutes!