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Outback Astronomy, Broken Hill


Story of stars told in Broken Hill.

If you live in a city anywhere in Australia or elsewhere in the world, there is a fair chance you don’t have a great view of the night sky.

This is because there are too many lights - from cars, buildings, street lights, structures and public venues – and they flood across the night sky, blocking light from distant stars.

Another problem with stargazing in cities is that viewing is often obstructed by tall trees, buildings and other man-made structures, as well as mountains and hills.

An evening with Outback Astronomy in Broken Hill is the perfect way to get to know the natural night sky.

Since outback sky viewing is so spectacular, naked eye sky viewing is the dominant form of sky viewing. Outback Astronomy also supplements sky shows with binoculars, while in certain events, telescopes are also used. Outback Astronomy does not just highlight objects in the sky that you view; you’ll hear the story of the stars, gain context of how things in space fit together and you’ll come to understand how enormous and mysterious space is.

Outback Astronomy

In city environments, the impact of light pollution on people’s lives is often overlooked.

“The difficulties of raising children in cities where there is extreme light pollution hit home for us when some guests from London, a family of four, told us their children had never seen stars ever at all in their lives,” said sky guide at Outback Astronomy, Linda Nadge.

“In another example, a family from China attended a sky show with two young children and they too had never seen a starry sky,” said Linda. “Time and time again we meet people from across the globe and from Australia’s capital cities as well, who’ve been deprived of dark skies.”

Light pollution is a by-product of our advanced civilisation and city life; it deprives people from clear views of the natural dark night sky. Often the only celestial object that can be viewed is the moon.

“What this really means for people is that a lifetime of natural dark sky observations and interesting celestial events can be completely missed!"

“Most people in cities have not been connected with the night sky for a very long time, if at all. This is why it becomes a special event to enjoy a naked eye astronomy sky show. However it is important to check our sky show calendar before travelling to Broken Hill, to ensure a sky show is scheduled. We typically schedule sky shows for three weeks then take a break around the time of the full moon."

Outback Astronomy

There are different sky shows for different seasons and different parts of the lunar cycle. All sky shows are suitable for the novice and no prior knowledge of astronomy is required. Sky shows are suitable for all persons aged 13 and above, with special sky shows for younger children scheduled in school holidays.

The highlight for most guests attending the sky shows is the magnificent view of the Milky Way Galaxy as it stretches across the sky from horizon to horizon.

“We orientate people under the sky. Using simple tools and a powerful laser pointer, people can imagine how they are positioned on planet earth and how they fit within the structure of space. Our guests are given context to better appreciate the sizes and distances of celestial objects,” said Linda.

“No matter what sky show theme or which evening our guests attend, the one thing in common they all take away with them is a new sense of understanding, respect and awe for our position in the universe as well as the fragility and very special nature of human life in the cosmos.”

The Outback Astronomy viewing site is located at the former Royal Flying Doctor Base, 18817 Barrier Highway, Broken Hill, NSW. Click here for more information.

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