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October at Stardome a special event added to the usual attractions

Dorothy - 09/10/07

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The visit of Lucy Hawking to Stardome is a special highlight. Tickets for the reading of George's Secret Key to the Universe may sell out soon, but if you miss out remember that there is a programme of other events at Stardome which will interest anyone who, like George, is interested in the universe.

Author Lucy Hawking is to visit Stardome and present a reading of the new children's book, George's Secret Key to the Universe, on Saturday, October 20.

George's Secret Key to the Universe
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Lucy has written this book in collaboration with her father Stephen Hawking, author of the phenomenal bestseller, A Brief History of Time.

Stephen Hawking with his daughter Lucy
Stephen Hawking with his daughter Lucy
Photo source Random House
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George's Secret Key to the Universe is the first volume of a kids' science fiction trilogy which is to be published in 29 countries this year, with subsequent volumes coming once a year. The aim in the trilogy is to create a scientific work of science fiction that will develop in the readers an interest in science. Stephen Hawking has co-writers in producing this book - his daughter, who had the idea, and the French physicist Christophe Galfard, whose thesis was based on Stephen Hawking's work. The fictional element in the book is the super computer that allows George and his friends to travel through space on an asteroid.

What does longer daylight saving mean for Stardome?
Although the people at Stardome look forward to the warmer days ahead our nights will also be getting shorter. Daylight saving this year commenced earlier than usual on Sunday 30th September and ends on April 6th 2008. The upside is even though we may need to stay up a little later we should be getting some nice clear nights to take a look at our wonderful southern skies.

What to look forward to in the skies for October
October will bring the constellation of Aquarius (the water carrier) into our night sky. Aquarius is home to the Helix Nebula which is one of the largest in the sky. Although it is a little tricky to pick out and it will be pretty faint in the city, telescopes may be able to show its beautiful large ring of gas. Another constellation which should be easy to spot is Pegasus looking like a great square dominating the northern sky. The bright star Altair lies to the northwest.

Happy 50th Birthday Sputnik
At Stardome Observatory there is an action-packed October lined up which kicks off with Happy 50th Birthday Sputnik on the 4th of October. To celebrate this momentous date in the history of space travel Stardome has produced two brand new shows, both with the theme of 'Space Junk'. The evening sessions throughout October and November will again be celebrating man's explorations into space over the last 50 years.

Opening Times

8pm The Sky Tonight Tuesdays to Saturdays
Let your presenter take you on a tour of the night sky and discover what planets, stars and constellations are visible in the night sky this month.

9pm 'Space Junk and Satellites' Special feature Friday and Saturday night only
The history of man's explorations into space changed when 50 years ago the Russians sent Sputnik up into space. This marked the dawn of the space age and the start of the space race, and Stardome will be taking a look at this and the countless other items that have been sent up into the cosmos.

Adults $14 Children$7 Concession $12
Courtyard telescope viewing is included after every show weather permitting.
Bookings essential.

Friday and Saturday special
Stay for both the 8pm and 9pm shows and get the 9pm for half price.

Saturday Family Feature
3pm Mars
(1 hour show).
Take an unforgettable trip to the red planet, take a look at Spirit and Opportunity working away in this striking terrain.
A great planetarium show for the entire family to enjoy together, followed by a brief presentation of "The Sky Tonight".

Adults at kids' prices $7.00.

Sunday Family Feature
3pm S.E.T.I.
(1 hour show).
Go on a journey through the real science of alien life. Travel through space to find out if life could really exist beyond Earth. Followed by a brief presentation of "The Sky Tonight".

Adults at kids' prices $7.00.

Preschool show first Sunday of each month at 2pm.

Commences Sunday 7th October
This programme has been specially designed for 2-5 year olds. Take a journey through the wonders of the night sky where you will watch 'The Magic Sky' and meet Mr Moon and sing along to Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Visit the BIG telescope and then move into the space room and try out the mag ic rainbow glasses and then read along with space stories.

$7/person (Adults at kids' prices) Bookings essential

Celestial Navigation
The first Tuesday of every month at 8pm.

Learn how to navigate using nothing but the stars and sun in our 360 degree panoramic theatre.
Course duration 2hours. Cost $20/person. Bookings essential.

Stardome has a great prize to give away to celebrate 50 Years of Space. The prize includes the DK Encyclopedia of Space, a Rocket project kit and a family pass to the 9pm Space Junk show. Valid for a session in November.

For all bookings phone 09 624 1246 or to confirm session times visit

Astro Update
by Dr. Grant Christie

Neptune's Warm South Pole
Neptune is the most distant of the Sun's planets, lying 30 times further from the Sun than the Earth. And because it receives only one thousandth of the sunlight Earth does, it is a very cold world, typically -200C. At the present time it is summer in the southern hemisphere of Neptune and because a full year lasts 165 Earth years, the summers on Neptune last about 40 Earth years. Astronomers have been using a very large telescope - in fact, called the Very Large Telescope - in Chile to measure the temperature of the lower layers of Neptune's atmosphere. Amazingly, they have found that south pole is 10C warmer than the rest of the planet.

They predict that in 80 years when summer returns to the north pole the north pole will become the warmest place. This temperature difference is now thought to cause the very high winds that Neptune is noted for.

Editor's comment
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