Australian Traveller

STARGAZING

FAR AWAY from the pernicious light pollution that hovers over cities, in the Warrumbungle National Park near Coonabarabran in central-west New South Wales, is Australia’s first Dark Sky Park.

What on earth is a Dark Sky Park? According to the International Dark-Sky Association, it’s a place to see our and other universes with uncommon clarity; a nocturnal viewing environment so exceptional that it warrants protection from light pollution. Other esteemed members of the Dark-Sky posse include Joshua Tree (USA) and Jasper (Canada) national parks.

Siding Spring Observatory surveys the gargantuan Warrumbungle landscape and skyscape from a 1200-metre-high ridgeline on the national park’s edge. About 40 telescopes of varying sizes sprinkle the bush, giving the observatory the air of a Rebel base film. Some are remotely operated from places far, far away, too, such as Hungary and Japan.

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