Later this year we are off on a family adventure to the United States. When looking at our flight details, Master R was perplexed about our departure and arrival time. How could it be that we would be leaving Sydney at around 11.00 am on Tuesday and arriving at LAX sometime after 6.00 am on the very same day? Were we going back in time? Were we TIME TRAVELLING?
Once I got over the amusement of Master R’s reaction I decided that at trip to the Sydney Observatory – www.sydneyobservatory.com.au would be the perfect place to help me explain time differences around the world. The site boasts a number of models that would help explain the Earth’s orbit around the sun, the moon’s orbit around Earth and they even have a bunch of astronomers on hand who could answer all the questions the kids were likely to ask.
Daytime admission for a self-guided visit to the gardens and the Observatory exhibitions is free but for $26.00 for a family you also gain access to the telescope towers, telescope viewings and 3D theatre sessions. Of course we opted for the family ticket and started with a 3D session.
Our visit started with the 3D theatre session – a detective story where the main protagonist in the story had to work out if something was real or fake based on science. Every kid in the theatre was still throughout the screening and left knowing that space is like a vacuum when it comes to sound, lasers need dust to be seen as a line (other wise you can only see their destination) and that the asteroid belt is very, very, very far away from Earth.
The adventure then began. We walked through the Observatory, up a number of stair cases and around a few corners and doors until we were in one of the observation domes. At the centre stood a very large telescope. Oh my….the excitement grew across the group as soon as we saw it. As it was still daylight (thankfully – it was 11.00 am!) we were unable to see any planets or stars, but our astronomer was prepared and had set up a special solar telescope which allowed us to study the sun through its eye piece. Solar flares were observed and reported.
The moon was in the sky as well but something funny happened to the telescope and it started moving all over the place by itself. Malfunction! Malfunction! So ended our sky exploration. We did have further hour to look through the observatory and have a look at all the different items, study the stars from a far and also play with lego.
If you’re in Sydney I highly recommend you make time to visit to Observatory. It has some of the most spectacular views in Sydney, a plethora of learning opportunities and the stars. What else could you want.