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SEPTEMBER SCHOOL HOLIDAYS 2021

SCHOOL HOLIDAY PROGRAM RUNNING September 29th September – 8th October

Come along and have some fun at the Gravity Discovery Centre and Observatory these SEPTEMBER school holidays!

Observatory sessions will run on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and Sunday nights during April School Holidays

School Holiday program.

Wednesday: Rocket Making Workshop 11.00 Start and 1.30 pm Start

Thursday: Exploring Space 11.00 Start and 1.30 pm Start

Friday: Rocket Making Workshop 11.00 Start and 1.30 pm Start

EASTER HOURS 2024

The Gravity Discovery Centre and Observatory would like to wish everyone a very Happy and Safe Easter.

Our opening hours for Easter 2024 are:

Good Friday – Closed

Saturday, Sunday and Monday open, daytime centre open and night time stargazing available.

We are open all school holidays as well and we look forward to seeing you soon.

 

Discover the Universe with Us: Gravity Discovery Centre and Observatory Calls for Volunteers!

🌌🔭 Are you passionate about space, science, and making a positive impact in your community? The Gravity Discovery Centre and Observatory invites you to join our team as a volunteer and be part of an exciting journey into the mysteries of the universe!

Opportunities for Every Interest:

🍽️ Kitchen Crew: If you have a flair for culinary arts and enjoy creating delightful experiences, our kitchen crew is the perfect place for you. Assist in preparing meals for events, ensuring that visitors have a stellar dining experience.

🔍 Guides at the Centre: Share your love for science and astronomy by becoming a guide at the Gravity Discovery Centre. Lead visitors through interactive exhibits, answering questions, and fostering a sense of wonder about the cosmos.

🌠 Observatory Enthusiasts: Join our observatory team and help visitors explore the night sky through our state-of-the-art telescopes. Whether you’re an experienced astronomer or just fascinated by the stars, there’s a place for you here.

🗃️ Administrative Support: Behind every successful centre is a team of dedicated administrative professionals. If you’re organized, detail-oriented, and enjoy keeping things running smoothly, consider contributing your skills to our administrative team.

Why Volunteer with Us?

🌌 Hands-On Learning: Gain valuable experience in the field of science and astronomy. Whether you’re a seasoned expert or just starting, there’s always something new to discover.

🚀 Community Engagement: Connect with like-minded individuals and contribute to the community’s understanding of the universe. Be a part of events, workshops, and outreach programs that inspire curiosity.

🌟 Flexible Schedules: We understand that your time is valuable. We offer flexible schedules to accommodate your commitments and ensure that volunteering fits seamlessly into your life.

🤝 Team Spirit: Join a passionate and welcoming team dedicated to promoting science education and exploration. Make new friends, share knowledge, and be a part of something extraordinary.

How to Get Involved:

Ready to embark on a cosmic adventure? Fill out our volunteer application form.

 

The universe is waiting—join us on this exciting journey of discovery! Together, we can inspire the next generation of space enthusiasts and foster a deeper understanding of the cosmos. 🌌✨

 

 

Warmest Holiday Wishes from the Gravity Discovery Centre and Observatory!

As we approach Christmas 2023, the entire Gravity Discovery Centre and Observatory team extends our heartfelt gratitude and warmest wishes to each and every one of you that has visited us. We wish everyone joy, connection, and the magic of the festive season.

Thank you for choosing the Gravity Discovery Centre and Observatory as your destination for exploring science, astronomy and aboriginal culture. We look forward to continuing this incredible in the coming year.

We wish everyone the very best and hope your New Year is festive and fun. May the stars shine brightly for you.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Human Exploration of the Cosmos: Paving the Way for Future Frontiers

The story of human exploration of the cosmos is one of curiosity, innovation, and boundless determination. From the early days of gazing at the stars to the current era of planning missions to distant planets, our journey into the cosmos has been both fascinating and consequential. The knowledge gained from past explorations has not only deepened our understanding of the universe but has also become the guiding light for the ambitious missions we aspire to undertake in the future.

The Pioneering Days:

Humanity’s fascination with the cosmos can be traced back to ancient civilizations, where early astronomers observed the night sky and developed intricate celestial maps. Fast forward to the space age in the mid-20th century, and we find ourselves witnessing the launch of the first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1, by the Soviet Union in 1957. This moment marked the beginning of human space exploration, opening up new frontiers beyond our home planet.

Moon Landings and Beyond:

The Apollo moon landings in the late 1960s and early 1970s represented a monumental leap for humankind. Astronauts ventured beyond Earth, setting foot on the lunar surface and capturing imaginations worldwide. The technological advancements and knowledge gained from these missions laid the groundwork for future space endeavours, serving as a testament to human ingenuity and determination.

Space Stations and Long-Term Habitation:

The construction and operation of space stations, such as the International Space Station (ISS), have allowed humans to live and work in space for extended periods. The ISS serves as a microgravity laboratory, offering insights into the effects of long-duration spaceflight on the human body and providing a platform for experiments that shape our understanding of fundamental scientific principles.

Rovers, Probes, and Robotic Exploration:

In addition to manned missions, robotic exploration has played a pivotal role in expanding our cosmic knowledge. Rovers like those on Mars, orbiters studying distant planets, and probes delving into the mysteries of comets and asteroids have provided invaluable data that informs our understanding of the solar system and beyond.

Toward the Future:

As we stand on the cusp of a new era of space exploration, lessons learned from past missions continue to guide our path forward. Ambitious plans include returning humans to the Moon, with the Artemis program aiming to establish a sustainable lunar presence. Beyond that, the prospect of crewed missions to Mars captures the imagination, fuelled by technological advancements and the lessons gleaned from decades of space exploration.

Innovation and Collaboration:

The quest to explore the cosmos is not only a testament to human curiosity but also a beacon for international collaboration and technological innovation. Partnerships between space agencies, private companies, and the scientific community propel us toward a future where humans may one day step foot on distant planets, opening up new possibilities for scientific discovery and the potential for life beyond Earth.

In conclusion, the human exploration of the cosmos has been a remarkable journey that continues to shape our understanding of the universe. The knowledge gained from past endeavours serves as a catalyst for future missions, inspiring us to reach new heights and fostering a collective dream of exploring the cosmos in ways previously unimaginable. As we look to the stars, the lessons of our cosmic past illuminate the path toward an exciting and promising cosmic future.

LeaningTower

School Holiday Adventures Await At The Gravity Discovery Centre & Observatory

School holidays are upon us, and at The Gravity Discovery Centre & Observatory, we have a mission: to make learning an unforgettable adventure for your children. As parents, you’re constantly on the lookout for engaging and educational activities, and we’ve got you covered. From rocketry to interstellar exploration and mesmerizing nights under the stars, here’s a glimpse of what’s in store for your little ones this holiday season.

Rocket Making Adventure (Wednesdays & Fridays): 

Imagine your child’s eyes lighting up as they design, build, and launch their very own rockets. Welcome to our “Rocket Making Program” during the school holidays on Wednesdays & Fridays! This hands-on workshop is a thrilling fusion of art and science. From crafting rocket bodies to decorating nose cones, creativity knows no bounds.

But the best part? The exhilarating rocket launch! Children will witness the power of science first hand as their homemade rockets soar into the sky, reaching for the stars. Along the way, they’ll grasp the intricacies of aerodynamics, physics, and propulsion. It’s more than an adventure; it’s an opportunity to ignite their curiosity about space exploration while having an absolute blast!

Space Explorers Expedition (Thursdays): 

On Thursdays in the holidays, let your young explorers embark on our “Space Explorers Program.”mThis program is a cosmic journey through our solar system, designed to captivate young minds and inspire a lifelong love for science.

Through interactive activities and captivating presentations, children will delve into the mysteries of our solar neighbourhood. From the scorching surface of Venus to the icy enigmas of Neptune, they’ll uncover the secrets of each celestial body. This isn’t just a journey; it’s an opportunity to nurture a deep appreciation for the vastness of space and the incredible diversity of celestial phenomena that exist beyond our world.

Observatory Tours and Stargazing (Throughout the Holidays) 

But the adventure doesn’t end there! Most nights during the school holidays, we invite you and your budding astronomers to our Observatory Tours. Venture to our observatory, where the wonders of stargazing come to life. It’s a chance for your family to explore the cosmos together.

Gaze upon distant galaxies, observe the delightful Saturn and its rings, and delve into the mysteries of the night sky. Our expert astronomers will be your guides on this celestial journey, ensuring you get the most out of this enchanting experience. It’s an opportunity to witness the wonders of the universe up close and personal, creating memories that will last a lifetime.

Secure Your Family’s Cosmic Adventure! 🚀🌌

At The Gravity Discovery Centre, we believe that learning should be an adventure. Our school holiday programs offer a unique blend of fun and education, promising your child unforgettable memories and a newfound passion for the marvels of science and space exploration.

Spaces are limited, so be sure to secure your family’s spot today. Join us for an out-of-this-world experience that unlocks the universe this school holiday season. Contact us at bookings@gravitycentre.com.au or call 08 9575 7577 to learn more and reserve your place in these exciting programs.

We can’t wait to show you the universe!

Wildflower Season Blooms at the Gravity Discovery Centre

It’s that time of the year again – wildflower season at the Gravity Discovery Centre is bursting with colour and life. If you’re into nature, Insta-worthy shots, or just curious about what’s blooming, we’ve got you covered.

Highlighting a few blossoms of the season:

1. Caladenia longicauda – The White Spider Orchid is notable for its long, slender sepals and petals, which give it a distinct spider-like appearance.
2. Pterostylis vittata – The Banded Greenhood is an evergreen terrestrial orchid, unique because it does not produce nectar but instead attracts pollinators through its appearance.
3. Caladenia flava – Known as the Cowslip Orchid, this species is recognized by its bright yellow flowers with red markings. It’s a favourite among native bees for pollination.
4. Pterostylis dilatata – The Green Snail Orchid is fascinating in its growth pattern, often emerging after bushfires, signifying nature’s resilience.
5. Pterostylis arbuscula – The Dwarf Greenhood gets its name from its small stature, often growing to a height of only about 10 cm.
6. Kennedia prostrata – The Running Postman is a sprawling ground cover plant. Its name is derived from its vibrant red flowers resembling the red coats of early British postmen.
7. Philotheca spicata – The Waxflower has oil glands in its petals which make them glisten, giving it its wax-like appearance.
8. Lysinema ciliatum – The Curry Flower stands out due to its fringed petal edges, providing a soft, feathery appearance.

In the coming days, the Elythranthera brunonis or the Purple Enamel Orchid is expected to bloom, definitely a fan favourite here at the centre.
Oh, and did we mention the family of Drosera? We’ve identified 7 unique species here. Commonly called sundews, these intriguing plants are not just beautiful but also carnivorous!

Why is this important? 🌍

Western Australia is a biodiversity hotspot. This means it’s home to a variety of plants and animals that you won’t find anywhere else in the world. Biodiversity (a combination of the words ‘biological’ and ‘diversity’) refers to the variety of different species inside an ecosystem. The array of wildflowers is not only a visual feast but a reminder of our responsibility to safeguard the balance of our ecosystems. If you’re planning a visit and have questions or are keen to spot these floral gems, do approach one of our astronomers Mitch. Whilst at night his head is in the stars, by day he
looks down at the ground beneath us to take in all of nature’s wonders no matter how big or small.

Pull out your cameras, bring your buddies and immerse yourself in nature’s playlist.

Asteroids: Exploring the Intriguing Cosmic Nomads

In the vast expanse of our solar system, an array of celestial objects dance around the sun, each with its own unique story to tell. Among these captivating entities, asteroids stand out as fascinating and enigmatic cosmic wanderers. In this article, we delve into the world of asteroids, uncovering their origins, characteristics, and the pivotal role they play in shaping the cosmic landscape.

Asteroids are rocky, airless remnants that populate the space between planets in our solar system. Often referred to as “minor planets” or “planetesimals,” these fragments hold vital clues about the early days of our solar system and the processes that led to its formation.

Asteroids are thought to be leftover building blocks from the formation of planets, a remnant of the solar system’s birth approximately 4.6 billion years ago. They vary in size from small pebbles to massive bodies, with some even exceeding hundreds of kilometres in diameter.

Most asteroids are composed primarily of rock and metal, resembling miniature planets that never coalesced into a larger whole. Some, known as carbonaceous asteroids, contain higher levels of carbon and water-bearing compounds, making them intriguing targets for scientists searching for the building blocks of life.

Asteroids are categorized into different classes based on their characteristics and composition. The three primary categories are:

  1. C-Type (Carbonaceous) Asteroids: These are the most common type and are rich in carbon compounds. They are often found in the outer asteroid belt and are believed to be among the oldest objects in the solar system.
  2. S-Type (Silicaceous) Asteroids: These asteroids are composed mainly of silicate materials and metals. They are typically found in the inner asteroid belt and represent a more diverse group in terms of composition.
  3. M-Type (Metallic) Asteroids: These asteroids are rich in metals, such as nickel and iron. They are often found in the middle of the asteroid belt and may be fragments of larger bodies that underwent significant differentiation.

Asteroids follow elliptical orbits around the sun, and their trajectories can bring them in close proximity to Earth. While the vast majority pose no immediate threat, the potential impact of a sizable asteroid remains a topic of concern for scientists and astronomers.

Notable incidents, such as the Tunguska event in 1908 and the Chelyabinsk meteor in 2013, underscore the importance of tracking and understanding the movements of asteroids that cross Earth’s orbit. Organizations like NASA actively monitor near-Earth objects and work on strategies to mitigate potential impacts.

Studying asteroids provides valuable insights into the formation and evolution of the solar system. By analysing their composition, scientists can uncover clues about the conditions that prevailed during the early stages of our cosmic neighbourhood’s development. Asteroids may also hold answers to questions about the origins of water and the building blocks of life on Earth.

Asteroids are more than just celestial oddities; they are time capsules that offer a glimpse into the past and the dynamic processes that have shaped our solar system. As we continue to explore and learn about these ancient relics, we unlock a deeper understanding of our cosmic origins and the intricate interplay that has shaped the universe we call home.

Image credit: NASA

The jets of Enceladus

Credits: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, and G. Villanueva (NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center). Image Processing: A. Pagan (STScI).

NEW JAMES WEBB IMAGE ALERT!…….and this one is cool!

The James Webb space telescope has recently taken a photo of Saturn’s icy moon Enceladus, the image can be viewed above and shows up as a white pixel in the image (highlighted in red). The moon itself in this image is not exciting; however, pictured below the white pixel (the moon), you can see jets of material coming off the moon. That substance is water, which is being ejected over 9,000kms!!

And… it’s feeding into the rings of Saturn!

Water being ejected off the surface of this moon is not a new discovery, that discovery was made quite dramatically in 2005 when the Cassini space probe pictured them erupting from the surface of the moon on one of its flybys. In fact, Enceladus is not the only moon to do this, Jupiter’s Icy moon Europa along with a few others has this same feature, which is water jets shooting off its surface. What is a discovery based on this image is just how far those plumes of water (also called geysers) reach into space, originally believed to reach several hundred km out, this new photo has given NASA a distance of over 9,000 km that the water jets reach out to, this is because the moon has little to no atmosphere and any thick atmosphere that does start to form doesn’t last for long due its weak gravity unable to hold onto it, the gravity is also weak enough that the pressure from the water jets can overcome it to reach those heights! 
This process of shooting water plumes off its surface is called cryovolcanism, “cryo” meaning cold and in this case, water vapor or Icey particles.
Above image is of Saturn’s moon Enceladus with the water plumes erupting from its south pole, taken by the Cassini space craft. Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
This illustration shows NASA’s Cassini spacecraft diving through the plume of Saturn’s moon Enceladus, in 2015. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Life in the moons?
The biggest detail of these water plumes or jets is the fact that they have evidence that life could be present under the icy surface of this moon. The moon’s surface is completely covered by ice, after all, it is around -200℃ out there, however, under all that ice are oceans of salty water, heated to liquid by heat due to the tidal forces exerted on it from Jupiter and the other big moons.

Scientists believe life may have originated deep underwater where heat makes its way up from the Earth’s hot core through openings called hydrothermal vents, heating the water to help provide conditions to support life through chemical energy and food rather than energy from the Sun. (see picture graphic below for visuals).
Scientists believe that hydrothermal vents present on moons such as Enceladus could also help spur life on within its waters.
Also, the Cassini spacecraft flew directly through one of these plumes of water during one of its flybys and its sensors detected organic compounds. Now, this isn’t to say without a doubt life is present within its waters, but some of the ingredients are there!

Ok, so it won’t be any forms of intelligent life, however, any other life form outside of Earth would be a big find! It would confirm that the universe can easily make life outside of Earth and help to support the idea that life began here on Earth due to that process. As it stands the origins of life are still somewhat of a mystery.

Everyone looks to planets in search of life when actually the moons are the biggest bet to find it (within our solar system anyway).
Photo Credit: Southwest Research Institute
For anyone interested in more reading, here is the link to NASA’s Webb image and story, including how it feeds into the rings of Saturn! 
Webb Maps Large Plume Jetting From Saturn’s Moon Enceladus | NASA

Bringing the Total Solar Eclipse to WA and the World

The Grand Eclipse Expedition of 2023

by

Richard (Rick) Tonello

Chief Astronomer GDC Observatory

 

On the 20th April 2023, along the sun drenched coastline of the Cape Range National Park, the Solar System will put on a spectacular show that will attract tens of thousands of people from across Australia and the world.

This celestial event will showcase the precision clockwork of the Solar System as the Sun, Moon and Earth perfectly align to create the spectacular phenomenon known as a Total Solar Eclipse.

Starting in the Great Southern Ocean, the shadow of the Moon will race across the surface of Earth at over 2700Km/h, skim over the Exmouth Peninsula and race northward from the Australian continent toward Timor-Leste and the Pacific Ocean.

For people along the narrow “Line of Totality” they will witness the Moon completely cover the blinding disc of the Sun revealing the complex structure of the Solar Corona. For a brief 62 seconds, observers will be plunged into an eerie twilight and the sky looking like a bullet has pierced its familiar continuum.

While there is a Total Solar Eclipse every 18 months somewhere around the world, this eclipse is special. The 2023 event is a rare Hybrid Eclipse that occurs once every decade. A Hybrid Eclipse is where the distance between the Earth and Moon is so finely balanced, that the curvature of Earth influences how much of the Moon covers the disc of the Sun. From the starting point in the Great Southern Ocean any observers will see an Annular Solar Eclipse, from Exmouth observers will see a Total Solar Eclipse.

Astronomers from the Gravity Discovery Centre Observatory will be on an expedition to Exmouth to observe, photograph and live stream the entire Total Solar Eclipse from the line of totality.

Live images will be provided from two, specialised Solar Telescopes and high-resolution cameras. One telescope will observe the Photosphere (Light Sphere), the surface of the Sun, while the other telescope will observe the Chromosphere (Colour Sphere), the dynamic layer located above the photosphere.

The broadcast provided by the GDC Total Solar Eclipse Expedition will be broadcasted to their FaceBook Page and YouTube Channel.

Local Media, social media and other organisations will pick up the GDC Observatory Total Solar Eclipse broadcast on the day of the Eclipse. Organisations such as Tourism WA, the Museum of Western Australia, the Singapore Science Centre, and to the Yagan Square Multimedia Screen are just a few of the organisations to utilise the live stream.

 

Those who are not observing from the Path of Totality will observe a Partial Solar Eclipse. Depending on the distance of the Observer from the path of Totality, the less of the Sun’s blinding disc will be obscured by the Moon.

 

Observers from Perth will witness a little over 70% of the Sun’s disc obscured by the Moon. Even though a majority of the Sun’s disc is covered, it is still dangerous to observe without the proper eye protection.  Never look directly at the Sun, even during the Partially Eclipsed phases. Even a 99% obscured Sun is enough to cause Solar Retinopathy (irreversible eye damage). Always use approved Solar Viewing Equipment (Eclipse Glasses) with the ISO 12312-2:2015 markings.

 

There are many ways to enjoy the Partial Eclipse through indirect viewing such as Pin-hole cameras, Camera Obscuras, kitchen colanders and Live streaming services.

 

There are many sources of information regarding Safe techniques to observe the Total and Partial Solar Eclipse such as the NASA, Gravity Discovery Centre & Observatory and Astronomical Society of Australia websites.

 

Through public education and correct information, let’s make this a date to remember for all the right reasons.