Bush fires are a great threat out here in the Warrumbungles, and I saw for myself the destructive force of fire yesterday. Driving into the National Park right next to the observatory, there are miles and miles of burnt trees… A devastating fire occurred in January, leaving behind a „moonscape“ that only slowly shows signs of recovery. The observatory right up the hill was also hit, but „only“ the accommodation-building for visiting astronomers was destroyed and no one was hurt. The telescopes themselves remained untouched by the fire.
After days of almost constant traveling I arrived in Coonabarabran, New South Wales, on Sunday. Coonabarabran, the „Astronomy Capital of Australia“, is the gateway to Siding Spring Observatory, the reason for my visit here. While I am still trying to master the time-difference, I met up with Mark Willis, LCOGT’s Site Manager here at Siding Spring, yesterday morning. Mark took me up to the observatory (about a 20-minute drive from town), which is set beautifully in the hills of ‘Warrumbungle National Park‘.
I am very excited that, after weeks of preparation, the next “chapter” of the ‘deep dark pale blue’-project is about to begin… I guess I can’t wait to get right into it, so the opening blog comes straight from the airport. I arrived at Zurich International, from where a LONG haul will take me to Sydney. Will rest there for a day and then continue my journey by car – to a town called Coonabarabran in the ‘Blue Mountains’-region, about 500 km from Sydney. I took this picture from the train on my way to the airport – seems like a nice, symbolic opening image… Much more to come in the next few days and weeks!