Australian Museum Members and astronomers Dr Fred Watson and Dr Nick Lomb set off on a 4 day tour to witness the 2012 Transit of Venus. This is what happened on day 3.
After another hearty country breakfast, we set off back to ‘The Dish’ for a behind the scenes tour of CSIRO Parkes radio telescope. John Sarkissian, Operations Scientist at the CSIRO Parkes Radio Observatory (and the doppelganger of Tim Flannery) gave us a private tour of the Radio Telescope made famous by its small involvement in the Apollo 11 landing and more recently the movie The Dish. He showed us the inner workings of the radio telescope and the different projects that take place there.
After some important souvenir purchases, we all climbed back on board our ‘rocket ship’ to head along the world’s largest virtual solar system to the home of the Australian Astronomical Observatory in Siding Springs. Fred and Nick provided interesting stories and took questions from us along our journey to Coonabarabran.
Once we arrived in Coonabarabran we made a quick stop at the information centre to see the Australian Museum Diprotodon fossil. This particular fossil, excavated by Australian Museum palaeontologistsis is the most complete Diprotodon skeleton specimen and was found at Tambar Springs in NSW. On one rib, there is a small, square hole tentatively identified as having been made by a spear while the bone was still fresh. This is one of the few pieces of evidence that humans may have hunted Diprotodon.
As the afternoon and evening progressed we were starting to get worried as bad weather had set in and the chances of actually viewing the Transit of Venus were diminishing. That evening over a very lovely dinner we heard from Dr Nick Lomb about the history of the Transit of Venus. We all got copies of his book and Nick was very happy to sign them. It was early to bed that evening as we had a very early start and very big day ahead.