Autumn 2023 Bec’s Blog

Firstly, I know there is quite a lot of rain falling across the Mid West since our last update. Let us hope the land is getting something out of it. I have given up on my poor, sunburnt garden for the season, and have resolved to wait out until the rains come to Perth and try again. Emma Folkes-Taylor, you can expect another call from me for some advice.

Rain burst behind ASKAP dish, Woodrudda. Credit: Brett Hiscock, CSIRO

However, I know that the recent rain has brought with it a huge amount of lightning, with more on the way. Our telescope, ASKAP, is the most vulnerable in these situations, but luckily our engineers are on the case to look after the 36 dishes. Lightning management is factored in from the beginning when you’re planning to put a metal tower in the ground. Hope everyone and their property remains safe during these intense natural phenomena.

From a work perspective this season is all about collaboration, as we work together to expand the capacity of Inyarrimanha Ilgari Bundara, the CSIRO Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory to include the SKA project. The first meeting of the Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) Liaison Committee was held in Geraldton.The ILUA committee brings together CSIRO, the Australian Government/DISR, WYAC and members of the Wajarri ILUA Liaison Committee. Being the first meeting of a formal committee, there were lots of procedural matters to get through but it was an excellent and informative meeting.

We have been asked quite a few questions about the AARNET fibre project and I promised a number of people that I would provide an update in this newsletter. I think it is important to note that there are many fibre connectivity projects happening in the Mid-West, which is fantastic to see. Alas, not all of these projects are ours. We are working with AARNET to bring connectivity to both the Pia Wajarri Community and the Murchison Settlement. We can confirm that AARNET has completed the surveys and design for the fibre to Pia and the settlement, and we are expecting that construction to start around August this year. We are not involved in the project Horizon fibre, which sees a fibre connection branch off from the existing fibre through to Cue.  

Lastly, I would like to acknowledge all the work done by the Murchison Shire on the Ancient Land under Brilliant Skies Festival, to be held in the settlement on the 15th and 16th of April.  

We are looking forward to being a part of this festival – look out for our helpful researchers who will be there to answer your astronomy questions! We’ll also be running two pre-booked coaches from the Settlement to the Observatory. An email with more details will be sent to those who have registered for the festival.  

There are also a number of smaller stargazing events happening in the region thanks to AstrotourismWA. The Eclipse Discovery Tour website lists many locations happening from now until the end of April, and you may see us at some of them.  

Of course, this festival and the local stargazing events are closely linked to the upcoming solar eclipse. You can find out more details on this other intense natural phenomenon in our What’s Up? section.  

More rain on the way to the Boolardy Homestead.