On Friday I had the pleasure and privilege of giving a talk at “The Dish.”
This is the Parkes Radio Telescope, a big 64-metre diameter dish antenna used to explore the radio sky. To the public it is famous for starring in the Australian movie, The Dish, that told the story, somewhat accurately but with liberal license throughout, of how the The Dish was used to receive the first TV signals from the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969.
Next week The Dish celebrates an important anniversary, 50 years since December 14, 1962 when Parkes received the signals from the first successful interplanetary probe, Mariner 2, flying past Venus, revealing that planet’s hellish conditions for the first time.
While The Dish is called upon occasionally to serve as a ground station for planet probes, its primary mission is to record natural radio signals from deep space objects, notably pulsars, spinning neutron stars. CSIRO’s website presents lots of information on the Parkes telescope.
Last night I presented a talk and picture show about the wonderful sky events in 2012, highlighted by the Great Australian Eclipse, to a nearly full house of local amateur astronomers at the Visitor Centre, where I took this photo. The talk was part of the monthly meeting, open to the public, of the Central West Astronomical Society, a very active club of which I am proud to be an honourary member. Whenever I am in Australia I try to get to Parkes on the club’s meeting night, to give a talk to the group and to meet up again with many of my Australian astronomy friends. It was a great evening. Thank you all!
– Alan, December 8, 2012 / © 2012 Alan Dyer