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Future stars to meet ancient stars

Stargazers with telescopes

The Aspire to Astronomy programme in Western Australia, will give locals the chance to learn about astronomy, and hopefully will give students the incentive to consider going on to university.

THE NIGHT SKY WILL IGNITE the imagination of school students in Western Australia’s Pilbara region in a series of upcoming community events next month.

Staff from The University of Western Australia, the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research, SPICE and Scitech are currently working in partnership with local high schools to bring the ‘Aspire to Astronomy’ event to Pilbara communities.

Armed with a passion for science, a host of hands-on activities and several large telescopes, ‘Aspire to Astronomy’ will mobilise in late May, visiting schools and students by day and delivering ‘observing on the oval’ events for communities at night.

In this fortnight long outreach initiative, Aspire to Astronomy will visit Port Hedland, Karratha, Roebourne, Tom Price and Newman.

Locals will be invited to join in the cosmic fun and can even bring along binoculars and telescopes of their own, adding to the equipment to be brought up from Perth.

The Moon

Aspire to Astronomy will be fun, with lots of night sky viewing through telescopes.

On the celestial menu will be the gas giant planet of Saturn, the Orion Nebula, the Jewel Box star cluster, globular cluster Omega Centauri and a host of other night sky wonders.

Aspire to Astronomy will also include a special presentation about the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), a $2 billion global science project to build the world’s largest and most sensitive radio telescope.

In the Murchison Shire of mid-west WA, teams of scientists and engineers are currently constructing new radio telescopes that test new technologies and demonstrate Western Australia’s ability to deliver world-class science.

Next year the international community will decide if Southern Africa or Australia and New Zealand are to host the radio telescope.

Aspire to Astronomy is part of Aspire UWA, a partnership between the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, the School of Indigenous Studies and Student Services at UWA.

Aspire UWA offers an on-going program to encourage students from communities under-represented in higher education to aspire to university study.

Aspire UWA partners with schools in the Pilbara region and outer metropolitan Perth that have a significant Indigenous student population.

It is funded by the Federal Government’s Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations and The University of Western Australia.

Adapted from information issued by UWA. Images courtesy IAU / TWAN / Babak Tafreshi / Lee Pullen / Andreas O. Jaunsen / IYA2009.

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