Why bother attending an astronomy night in Sydney? Guest writer Ann Cairns of the Sydney City Skywatchers shares her expert knowledge on what can be discovered from the darker depths of Centennial Park.
Some might ask "why bother attending an astronomy viewing night under the light polluted skies of Sydney?". Well, while the light pollution is not ideal for some types of viewing, it doesn’t prevent us from seeing the glorious wanderers of our solar system - the planets.
City skies also are a great way to learn to identify our brightest stars and constellations without the sometimes overwhelming starfield of a dark country sky.
This type of stargazing is perfect for first-timers and families looking to get a taste of astronomy at the events held by Centennial Parklands and Sydney City Skywatchers.
Of course, the Moon is always a popular and easy object to view and these days it is often possible to spot and identify artificial satellites passing overhead, especially the International Space Station (ISS) and the Hubble Space Telescope (HST).
The Skywatchers outreach volunteers who bring their telescopes to Centennial Parklands are passionate about sharing their love and knowledge of the night (and sometimes day) skies with the public.
Most of the members bring along their highly portable (grab-n-go) telescope set-ups and sometimes we show off our club’s antique brass telescopes that date back to the late 1800s and early 1900s.
These telescopes give us amazing views of the moon, planets and their moons, and deep sky objects like star clusters, double stars and galaxies.
There are a few larger scopes that come along to events now and then that allow surprisingly detailed glimpses of the cloud layers of Jupiter, the rings of Saturn and some glittering deep sky objects.
Sydney City Skywatchers has provided a forum for amateur astronomers since 1895. Visit their website for monthly meeting times, interesting articles and links to other online resources about astronomy: www.sydneycityskywatchers.org.
For more information about upcoming astronomy events at Centennial Park see our What's On, and to find out what you might see on any given night check out this monthly sky guide.