Gravity Discovery Centre Observatory Tour

Last night we visited the Gravity Discovery Centre and Observatory in Gingin for one of their Observatory Tour nights.

You get a full access ticket to the discovery Centre as a part of the tour ticket, so we made use of that to have a look around at the exhibits. The whole thing is a bit like a very focused SciTech or Powerhouse Museum sort of idea.

The GDC at sunset, the Leaning Tower to the right, and the Lecture Dome and Giant Pendulum to the left

We also collected the five solargraph cameras that we set up six months ago. Three of these were Solarcan Pucks, and two were home-brew can cameras.

One of the Pucks was, alas, full of water, and the film was washed away. One of the can cameras was also heavily water filled, while the other had been partially crushed. The other two Pucks were in perfect condition.
Six month solargraph of the giant pendulum, with the Leaning Tower in the background.

What was unexpected was that both can cameras had acquired significant populations of tiny ants. One of them was even being used as an egg chamber! Despite this I was able to recover images from both, and the results are quite striking.

One of the damaged can camera solargraphs. Very abstract, but quite beautiful.

The tour, meanwhile, was very well presented, with a lot of great educational content mixed in with some fairly memorable standup. The contrast between how they would deal with moon landing conspiracy theorists ("We are here to educate") and flat earthers ("Get out now! Right now!") was particularly amusing.

There were five telescopes set up - 4 in the 11-12 inch range and one 60cm.

There was plenty to look at, despite the threatening clouds, and we had a chance to do some photography of our own while we were there.

In particular, I had taken my Ricoh Theta S with me, allowing for some striking astroscapes. 

The GDC's radio telescope dish with Weitj (the Emu) rising above it.

Certainly a lot of fun, and well worth the drive.

Afterwards, we went back to the Gingin Roadhouse, where we had booked a motel room.  Just across the road, though, was a small layover area with amazing clear views of the sky. So we took the car across with our DwarfII telescopes, and set them up to shoot before the clouds rolled in. Why the car? For less than 50 metres? To have somewhere to stay warm in while the telescopes did their thing!

As it turned out, we did not get very long. I only managed about 180 frames for my two targets. It is a testimony to how much the software has improved that I was able to get such good results for NGC55 and NGC300, which are two galaxies in the Sculptor constellation.
NGC55 - The String of Pearls Galaxy

NGC300 Pinwheel Galaxy in Sculptor


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