Sydney Observatory and Bradfield Park

2017 08 28 sydney observatory excursion 15On Tuesday August 29, our wonderful students had the chance to visit the Sydney Observatory in Millers Point. We enjoyed the bus trip down the M2 to the city. Our first stop was Bradfield Park, one of the most spectacular locations in Sydney. We spent some time enjoying our recess and had some fun in the playground and the park. From here, we could appreciate the vast size of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and enjoyed stunning views of the harbour. We then started our walk across the Harbour Bridge, where we could get a glimpse of the harbour, the Sydney Opera House and the many skyscrapers that fill the city.

We arrived at the Sydney Observatory site, located on the aptly named Observatory Hill. We learned that the site evolved from a fort built on a ‘Windmill Hill’ in the early 19th century, to an astronomical observatory during the nineteenth century. We ate lunch in the gazebo overlooking the harbour from the south, and then it was on to the day’s main activity.

We enjoyed our tour of the observatory, where we used iPads and digital technology to gain an understanding of the planets and the stars in the expansive solar system. We were able to view each of the planets up-close. Using digital technology, we could examine the differences between the planets, and could appreciate how far the planets are from Earth and from each other. The planetarium provided a new perspective on the night sky. We watched a film about astronomy, and witnessed the constellations, as they were mapped out right above us. The night sky majestically progressed from dusk to dawn in high speed, showing us where and when to look for the bright planets. We were also shown how to identify the Southern Cross and the Milky Way.

We then headed to the dome of the observatory to use the old telescope. The cloudy sky meant we each had a turn at viewing an object on ground level. We climbed the ladder, and were given instructions to cover one eye. Using the eyepiece, we took a close look towards the west – the Balmain Clock Tower – an astonishing 2km away. Many of the students were able to identify what they saw – some even saying it looked like “London’s Big Ben … but upside down”. Following this, we gave thanks and farewelled our tour guides, departing by bus from Argyle Street.

Overall, it was an enjoyable experience had by all.

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