Astronomy in May: a Moon mosaic, writers festival, ‘Shared Sky’ and more

Astronomy Year

Issued on behalf of Helen Sim, IYA

Welcome to my May bulletin for the International Year of Astronomy in Australia.

There are nearly 60 events around Australia in May. I’ve listed them below and full details are online at

The highlights include an Open day at Siding Spring Observatory, Galactic television on the web, careers in space exploration with Glen Nagle from NASA, multi-media performances in the ACT, Sydney, and the Mornington Peninsula, astronomy in antiquity at the University of Sydney, and many opportunities to gaze at the stars.

And you are invited to contribute to an international mosaic of the Moon.

Several speakers are touring the country including:

  • Marcus Chown, the cosmology consultant to New Scientist
  • Michael Turner, University of Chicago, who is talking in Melbourne and Canberra
  • Pascal Lee, co-founder and chairman of the Mars Institute

The Sydney Writers Festival is celebrating IYA with eight events. Marcus Chown appears in a public lecture, in conversation with Fred Watson, in a Q&A session and in a Café Scientific”. Also, Kate Grenville discusses the influence on historical astronomer William Dawes on her latest book, The Lieutenant, and the Auburn Poets and Writers Group present three multilingual performances exploring the sky and the planet below.

The National Gallery Victoria Australia at Federation Square has the exhibition “The Shared Sky” which is associated with two events in May: in Late Night Thursdays, Rod Quantock discusses the photographs from the Hubble telescope, and Kutcha Edwards performs; in Short Talks Afternoon, artist David Stephenson and astronomer Christopher Fluke discuss their perspective of “Shared Sky”.

The 2009 Australian Science Festival will be held from Tuesday 26 to Sunday 31 May will celebrate the International Year of Astronomy with big bangs, shooting stars and soaring rockets!

April was another big month of activity with thousands of people viewing the night sky around the country during 100 Hours of Astronomy.

Coming up in June and July look for Moon Madness celebrations marking the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11.

My thanks to the Commonwealth Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research for their support of the Year and of these bulletins.

Please feel free to forward this bulletin to others with an interest in astronomy and to cut and paste from it for your own publications.

If you have any queries, please contact me on or (02) 9372 4251.

If you have suggestions for future bulletins, or want to subscribe or unsubscribe to this bulletin, please send your request to we’re using this email address just for the bulletins.


Helen Sim

Single Point of Contact (SPOC) in Australia for the 2009 International Year of Astronomy

Tel: +61-2-9372-4251

Mob: +61-419-635-905

(sent by Niall Byrne, Science in Public, on Helen’s behalf)

In this bulletin:

1.          The Moon for all Mankind

2.          Events to the end of May

1.           The Moon for all Mankind

To commemorate the 40th anniversary of the first manned Moon landing, the IYA organising committee in Malta will produce a mosaic of the full Moon, 1.25 m in diameter, made from images supplied by different countries. The final image will be distributed to all the participating countries.

Australia has been allocated section 8 of the Moon to image, and your photo could be the one chosen as Australia’s contribution!

Details of the project are at

How to participate:

  • Photograph the specified section of the Moon when it is brightly lit. The image can extend beyond the borders of the section.
  • Make a jpeg file, 500 pixels wide, of your image. This is just for judging purposes: a high-resolution image will be used for the final mosaic.
  • Send the file to Helen Sim, at, by Wednesday 10 June.

The images will be judged (anonymously) by astrophotographer David Malin. We will then ask the lucky winner to forward a high-resolution image.

The image doesn’t have to be a new one: you might have a suitable one in hand already.

Best of luck with the weather, and I look forward to those photos.

2.           Events to the end of May

Events coming up include the following. See unless otherwise directed.


  • “Galactic Television” will show a “live” stream of deep sky objects when the weather is clear, from 1 May to 31 December
  • “Astronomy webcast from Charles Sturt University” starting 7pm AEST will run for approximately 2 hours from the Charles Sturt University remote telescope; these webcasts are on each month and the next one is on Thursday 14 May.

Australian Capital Territory

  • “Sun in me” is a special concert to celebrate composer Peter Sculthorpe’s 80th birthday, with an astronomical program of music and images, on Thursday 7 May
  • “Evolution of the universe, the planet, life and thought: the inspiration of Galileo and Darwin” is part of Science at the Shine Dome, on Friday 8 May
  • “From the Earth to the Moon and back again” is a full moon multi-media jazz concert of music and NASA moon voyage images, part of the Canberra International Music Festival, on Saturday 9 May
  • “Southern stars at Stromlo” will use the telescopes and experts of the Canberra Astronomical Society to view Saturn and star clusters at Mt Stromlo Observatory, on Saturday 23 May
  • “An evening of science theatre” with the life of Galileo and the mysteries of the Cosmos at Australian National University, on Tuesday 26 May
  • “Stars and planets – all about it!” is one of many events at the Australian Science Festival, from Tuesday 26 to Sunday 31 May
  • “Origins of the elements of life” is a public lecture given by Tim Beers, Michigan State University, at the Australian National University, on Wednesday 27 May
  • “Southern stars” is hosted by the Canberra Astronomical Society in conjunction with the Australian Science Festival at Black Mountain Peninsula, on Wednesday 27 May
  • “Your new career – space explorer” with Glen Nagle from the NASA Tracking Station in Canberra, on Thursday 28 May
  • “From Earth to Mars: steps towards the first human mission To Mars” with Pascal Lee from NASA and the Mars Institute as part of the Australian Science Festival, on Friday 29 May
  • “Star talk speaker series” explore the secret life of stars as part of the Australian Science Festival, on Saturday 30 May
  • “Telescopes ancient and modern” launches the National Museum of Australia’s new exhibit, a 19th century Grubb refractor, on Saturday 30 May
  • “Science in the pub: Mars, is it worth the trip?” with the ABC’s Bernie Hobbs and Paul Willis chatting with Mars experts Jon Clarke, Pascal Lee and Malcolm Walters as part of the Australian Science Festival, on Sunday 31 May

New South Wales

  • “Macquarie University Observatory – Friday Night Observing” offers a weekly “starfinder” session and telescope observation, every Friday until 27 November
  • “Stargazing at Parramatta Park” will provide up to 50 small telescopes and amateur astronomers to guide you around the sky, on Saturday 2 May
  • “Starry, starry night at Linden Observatory – for kids!” is in the Blue Mountains, on Saturday 2 May
  • “The sky’s the limit: astronomy in antiquity” is an exhibition at the Nicholson Museum, University of Sydney, exploring the astronomical understanding of ancient cultures, from Sunday 3 May to Sunday 13 December
  • “Music and the cosmos” brings together Sydney astronomers and musicians in a celestially-inspired performance, on Wednesday 6 May
  • “Sundials” are the subject of a talk by Ross Pogson at a meeting of the Astronomical Society of NSW, on Friday 8 May
  • “Macquarie University astronomy open night” will include stalls, a BBQ, telescopic viewing and a talk on planetary nebulae, on Saturday 9 May
  • “Astronomy from the ground up” workshop for science teachers is held at Parkes Observatory, from Friday 15 to Sunday 17 May
  • “Young starwatchers” program at the Observatory of Western Sydney teaches science and astronomy to young children, on Friday 15 May
  • “Dave Reneke’s Astronomy outreach” schools program will visit schools in Port Macquarie, Coffs Harbour and Grafton on Tuesday 19, Wednesday 20 and Thursday 21 May, respectively
  • “Auburn rising: the sky belongs to everyone” is a multilingual performance with Auburn Poets and Writers Group, as part of the Sydney Writers Festival, on Tuesday 19, Saturday 23 and Sunday 24 May
  • “Galileo’s ‘Dialogo'”, Galileo’s book defending the Copernican view of the solar system and leading to Galileo’s trial by the Catholic Church, is the subject of a talk by Paul Brunton, Mitchell Library, on Thursday 21 May
  • “17th South Pacific star party” with speaker Charley Lineweaver is hosted by the Astronomical Society of NSW at Ilford, on Friday 22 to Sunday 24 May
  • “Marcus Chown in conversation with Fred Watson” at the Sydney Writers Festival, on Saturday 23 May
  • “Ask Marcus Chown ANYTHING!” is your chance to ask the New Scientist cosmology consultant about black holes, creation, quantum physics and the big bang, at the Sydney Writers Festival, on Saturday 23 May
  • “Sydney Writers Festival : an evening with Kate Grenville”, who was inspired by the 1790 notebooks of astronomer William Dawes for her novel “The Lieutenant”, at the Sydney Observatory, on Saturday 23 May
  • “Siding Spring Observatory open day” gives you a rare chance to see inside several of the telescopes, on Sunday 24 May; there are also stargazing sessions in the nearby Warrumbungle National Park on Saturday 23 and Sunday 24 May
  • “Black holes, wormholes and vomit balls in space” with cosmologist Marcus Chown at the Sydney Writers Festival on Sunday 24 May
  • “The science of parallel universes: could there be copies of YOU out there? a Café Scientific” with Marcus Chown and Charley Lineweaver presented by ABC Science, on Sunday 24 May
  • “Twilight sidewalk astronomy at city of Sydney library with Sydney Observatory” at Waterloo Library, on Monday 25 May
  • “Festival Of The Stars teams up with Smart Light Sydney” in Sydney’s biggest star party at the Sydney Observatory, on Friday 29 and Saturday 30 May


  • “Urban observers public viewing, Indooroopilly” with the South East Queensland Astronomical Society is for people who want to learn about telescopes or just stargaze, on Sunday 3 May
  • “‘Spaghetti Astronomy’ and ‘From RAVE to GAIA'” is a public double-lecture at the Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium, Brisbane Botanic Gardens, with astronomers Fred Watson and Matthias Steinmetz, on Sunday 10 May
  • “Public telescope viewing evening” at Mt Coot-tha will be hosted by the Brisbane Astronomical Society, on Sunday 17and Saturday 30 May
  • “A night sky tour (Ballandean)” will show spectacular views of stars, galaxies and nebulae at Twinstar Guesthouse Observatory, Ballandean, on Wednesday 27 May
  • “Kingfisher Bay on Fraser Island celebrates International Year of Astronomy” with a special viewing of the moon and Saturn led by Noeleen Lowndes, Southern Astronomical Society, on Saturday 30 and Sunday 31 May


  • “The Shared Sky” exhibition at the Ian Potter Centre, NGV Australia, Federation Square, explores the cultural experience of the night sky over Australia, until 2 August
  • “Heavens Above” multimedia talk and stargazing with the Mornington Peninsula Astronomical Society will be held at the Briars, Mount Martha, on Friday 1 May
  • “Victorian Amateur Astronomers Conference” on the theme “Galileo to Google” will be hosted by the Ballaarat Astronomical Society, on Saturday 2 and Sunday 3 May
  • “Shared sky: late night Thursdays @ NGV Australia” features Rod Quantock on the Hubble space telescope and the music of Kutcha Edwards, at Federation Square, on Thursday 7 May
  • “Beyond visibility: light and dust” is a mixed media exhibition of works by indigenous artist Gulumbu Yunupingu, visual artist Felicity Spear and astronomical photographer David Malin at the Monash Gallery of Art, from Friday 8 May to Sunday 28 June
  • “Light Years: Photographs And Space” exhibition at the National Gallery Victoria International, St Kilda Rd, brings together photographs of real and imagined space travel, from Friday 8 May to Sunday 27 September
  • “The dark side of the universe: beyond stars and the starstuff we are made of” free public lecture by Michael Turner, University of Chicago, will be held at the University of Melbourne, on Saturday 9 May
  • “Shared sky: short talks afternoon – Starry, starry night” features artist David Stephenson and astronomer Christopher Fluke at the Ian Potter Centre, NGV Australia, Federation Square, on Saturday 16 May
  • “Space Explorers” with Glen Nagle from the NASA Tracking Station in Canberra, on Friday 29 May

South Australia

  • “Telescope viewing night @ The Heights Observatory” will allow you to see close-up views of Saturn and the moon, on Friday 1 May
  • “Telescope viewing night @ Black Forest” is an opportunity to see close-up views of Saturn and the moon, on Saturday 2 May
  • “Stockport Observatory star party” will see close-up views of the moon and Saturn with the Astronomical Society of SA, on Saturday 30 May


  • “Tasmania Gems Astro-Tour” with astronomer Dave Reneke as guest lecturer on the P&O cruise ship Dawn Princess cruising around southern Australia, from Saturday 30 May

Western Australia

  • “Out There! Astronomy Exhibition” at the University of Western Australia is about the Square Kilometre Array, the world’s biggest ground-based astronomy project, from Monday 4 to Friday 15 May
  • “AstroWA Space Camp” is for teachers and students, from Tuesday 5 to Thursday 7 May
  • “Space 2020: to the moon and beyond” with the Geological Society of Australia (WA) features guest speaker Brent McInnes, on Wednesday 6 May

For more information about these events visit

If your event isn’t included in this listing please register it at


Helen Sim

Single Point of Contact (SPOC) in Australia for the 2009 International Year of Astronomy

Tel: +61-2-9372-4251

Mob: +61-419-635-905