I’m old enough to be one of the “We called it the telescope” brigade. It was a little confusing to this little girl because it didn’t look like other telescopes.
This weekend, the CSIRO held an open day at their Parkes Radio Telescope. Mum and I headed out as early as we could but still had to stand in a long line for tickets. It was a free event and the ticket booth didn’t have to stay open long before they were all gone.
It was a 20 minute tour, with only 14 people per group, and it looked like there were only 3 groups within the perimeter at any time. They really couldn’t put any more people through AND keep it safe. It is still a working observatory.
We had 2 hours to wait until our 11:15 time slot.
Plenty of time to wander around and take a few photos.
There has been much in the media about the differing roles played by the various telescopes around Australia in support of the Apollo 11 moon landing. The degree of focus on the Parkes-based facility is seen by some as inappropriate when it overshadows the roles played by the others.
The difficulty for other sites, such as Honeysuckle Creek for example, is that there isn’t much there anymore. It’s hard to build this kind of hype over a few concrete slabs and some rusty metal.
And this is where society has to be a bit more thoughtful now. Once upon a time, it was enough to grab a few pieces for a local museum. That doesn’t cut it anymore. This is a digital society that expects experiential and instragramable locations. How we manage our significant sites, including those coming on board, is critical to how they will be remembered.
For example, as the space industry technology evolves, the relics are retained on-site at Parkes. This is important. Check out my previous post on Mt Stromlo. Another excellent example of looking after heritage.
Thankfully, this is still a working observatory, which means everything is continually maintained … which means we can take a tour inside, climb the ladders and stand outside, lean back against the railing and see how it moves.
And get some up-close photos.
Although I’m not sure what that last one is? By the patterning, perhaps something up very close while I was putting my phone away before heading down some stairs!
Tomorrow, my knees may not like me.