You don’t have to travel to a galaxy far, far away to discover the Milky Way. Just 745km from Brisbane, you’ll find Charleville, the star-studded capital of Outback Queensland.
As the only observatory in Outback Queensland, Charleville’s Cosmos Centre and Observatory takes advantage of the outback’s clear skies, with no city lights and pollution to cloud what lies between you and the stars.
To get you primed for your galaxy adventure, brush up on some star stats and facts below:
1. Coloured Stars
Did you know not all stars are white, but a range of colours including red, orange, yellow and blue?
A star’s colour changes through its life-cycle as its temperature rises, from red to eventually blue according to which is hottest.
2. Craters in the Moon
If you thought the shadows in the moon was E.T. making a return to Earth – think again.
The shadows are craters caused by asteroids and meteoroids colliding with the surface, because unlike other planets, the moon doesn’t have an atmosphere to keep objects away.
It also lacks wind, weather or vegetation, so once the crater is formed, it’s there to stay.
3. The Moon is spinning away
Although it’s happening slower than a snail’s pace (at a rate of 3.78 centimetres per year to be specific), did you know the moon is slowly drifting away from Earth?
There are concerns that our planet may be affected as the moon moves too far away, but there’s no need to build your apocalypse bunker just yet – it isn’t expected to happen for billions of years – if at all.
4. Asteroid Charleville
Floating between the outback and Jupiter in the asteroid belt, is one of Outback Queensland’s favourites – Asteroid Charleville.
It was discovered in 1988 by Japanese Astronomer, T. Seki, who also discovered other Australian asteroids including Asteroid Stanthorpe (1989) and Asteroid Girraween (1990).
In 2006, the Cosmos Centre had their application approved to have Asteroid Charleville formally recognised and listed on the NASA website.
5. Distant planets
Do you know a jingle to remember the order of the planets in our solar system?
If you can’t remember one, try this: My very electrifying Meade just showed us now.
With the help of a Meade Telescope, and some guidance from the experts at the Cosmos Centre, you may even get a glimpse of the farthest planet Neptune – 4.7 billion kilometres away.
6. Falling stars don’t fall
Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket may sound like a fun thing to do, but sadly falling stars are just a myth.
A falling star or shooting star isn’t actually a star, but a tiny meteoroid hurtling towards Earth, before burning up.
7. The smallest constellation
The Southern Cross, also known as Crux Australis or Crux for short, is undoubtedly the most famous constellation visible in the Australian sky.
Most people recognise the constellation by its four brightest stars, but with a good telescope you can discover the fifth star.
8. Meteorite on Earth
It’s not all craning through a telescope at the Cosmos Centre to see stars, pay a visit to their outback skygazing theatre, where you can kick back and journey to infinity and beyond from your seat.
The Cosmos Centre offers an Astronomy by Day session, where you’ll get the opportunity to hold a ‘shooting star’.
9. The sun packs a punch
Don’t neglect the most important star in the solar system – the sun – with a visit to Charleville
With the help of a solar telescope you can observe the sun (150 million kilometres away) during a Sun Viewing tour.
It may not be the biggest star in the sky, but there’s still lots to learn about its surface and chromosphere, and you might be lucky to catch a glimpse of some solar flares.
Note: Sun viewing only operates when it’s below 26 degrees Celsius.
Have you been to the Cosmos Centre in Charleville? What starry facts did you learn?
Post sponsored by Charleville Cosmos Centre and Observatory.