Siding Spring Observatory is being threatened by a bush fire.

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This is definitely not the kind of news that astronomers like reading about… The Siding Spring Observatory in New South Wales, Australia, is currently threatened by a large uncontroled bush fire.

Aerial view of the fire near Siding Spring Observatory (credit: Rural Fire Service)

Siding Spring Observatory part of  Australian National University (ANU)  is home of several telescopes including the Anglo-Australian Telescope (AAT), a 3.9m optical telescope, and the largest one in Australia, but also the 2.0 m Faulkes Telescope South of Las Cumbres Observatory (LCOGT), and the exoplanet finder HAT-south telescope.

Thankfully, the people who worked at the observatory have been evacuated on time (source Peter Verwayen).

These telescopes are equipped with weather stations and webcams, used by astronomers to monitor the weather and check the status of the telescope remotely.  It is still possible to follow what is going on at the observatory.

The weather station at AAT displayed a spike reaching ~100 deg C, but it quickly dropped and at the time I am writing these lines, this trend is continuing, so this may be a good news.

 

The webcams of the Faulkes Telescope at 12:08 PT show that the fire did not reach this telescope.

Since we are still getting data from these instruments, the fire may have not reached these facilities (AAT, Faulkes & HAT). The best way to know what is going on at Siding Spring is to follow Twitter, and the accounts of Michel Bannister (@astrokiwi), Amanda Bauer (@astropixie), Bryan Gaesler (@SciBry) and Brian Schmidt (@Cosmicpinot).

I remember vividly when 10 years ago the Mount Stromlo Observatory (MSO), another Australian Observatory, was devastating by a firestorm, which destroyed most of the telescopes and houses and offices of my colleagues and friends. I sincerely hope this observatory will be spared from the destruction and tomorrow, when the employees will be allowed to come back, they will find only minor damages.

I am keeping my fingers crossed and I wish to all of you clear skies, especially in Australia.

Franck M.

About Franck Marchis

Dr. Franck Marchis is a Researcher at the Carl Sagan Center of the SETI Institute since July 2007. Over the past 15 years, he has dedicated his research to the study of our solar system using mainly ground-based telescopes equipped with adaptive optics. More recently he has been also involved in the definition of new generation of AOs for 8 -10 m class telescopes and future Extremely Large Telescopes. He has developed algorithms to process and enhance the quality of images, both astronomical and biological, using fluorescence microscopy. His currently involved in the development of the Gemini Planet Imager, an extreme AO system for the Gemini South telescope which will be capable of imaging and record spectra of exoplanets orbiting around nearby stars.

2 Responses to Siding Spring Observatory is being threatened by a bush fire.

  1. […] 4:30 morgens Ortszeit] Faulkes Süd soll überlebt haben; weitere – frühere – Artikel hier und hier. [20:20 MEZ] Gefällt mir:Gefällt mirSei der Erste dem dies […]

  2. Appreciate your information about the Siding Springs Observatory. I have friends who live in that area of Australia. Found your site while researching info for my website about telescopes: Orion Telescopes

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