There’s nothing that captures the imagination quite like star-gazing on a clear night, and some of the clearest views on offer are in our very own backyard. There was a fair amount of excitement recently with the arrival of the super moon, but the moon doesn’t have to be super for those with a keen eye to see that it has a travelling companion.
While most people will have you think that the dark craters on the moon’s surface make the shape of a rabbit, the locals of Charleville know that it’s actually one of Australia’s most beloved animals – the Bilby. The shape you see from earth is made up of luna mares – or ‘moon seas’ – so named by early astronomers who thoughts they were actual seas.
The friendly staff at Charleville’s Cosmos Centre have a wealth of knowledge about the star-studded Outback sky, like these fascinating facts about the moon:
1] The Dark Side of the Moon Doesn’t Exist
Although we only see one side of the moon from earth, both sides receive the same amount of sunlight due to the moon rotating on its’ own axis. This rotation occurs at the exact same rate as the earth’s rotation, which is why only astronauts have seen the far side. Sorry Pink Floyd fans, but it looks like this album won’t be winning any Grammy’s for scientific accuracy anytime soon!
Enjoy a beautiful clear Outback night sky at the Cosmos Centre.
2] The Moon is Drifting Away from Earth
But before we panic and call NASA, it’s important to note that it’s happening at an extremely slow rate – about 3.8cm per year. To put that in perspective, in 50 billion years it will only be taking an extra 20 days to orbit the planet.
3] The Moon has no Atmosphere
Apart from meaning there is no air for us to breathe, the lack of atmosphere also leaves the surface unprotected from cosmic rays, meteorites and solar winds. The weather is even more unpredictable than in Melbourne, with huge temperature swings between 107 degrees Celsius during the day, down to -153 degree Celsius at night!
The interactive displays in the Cosmos Centre are perfect for the kids!
4] Asteroids are ‘leftovers’ from the formation of the Solar system
Early on the birth of Jupiter precluded any planetary bodies from forming in the gap between Mars and Jupiter, causing the small objects to collide with each other and fragment into the asteroids seen today. There is even an asteroid named after Charleville, that was discovered by Japanese Astronomer, T. Seki in 1899!
5] Only 12 People Have Ever Walked on the Moon
And all of them were American; the first of them was of course Neil Armstrong, and the last one was Gene Cernan on the Apollo 17 mission in 1972. There are plans to return astronauts to the moon and NASA hopes to set up a permanent space station there in 2019! Maybe they’ll uncover more interesting info about the bilby that lives there…..
At the Charleville Cosmos Centre, you can get up close and personal with the moon, stars, and even the sun! While in Charleville you can even get to know more about the real Bilbies we have here on Earth!
Starry, starry night.
Tours and experiences at the Cosmos Centre include:
- Convoy Tour
- The Bilby Tour
- Corones Hotel Stories & Scone Tour
- Sun Viewing
- Night Sky Observatory Centre
- Astronomy By Day
So next time you’re in the Outback don’t forget to take a moment to look skyward, and appreciate our mate, the Bilby in the moon.
Phone: 07 4654 7771