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Blue Snoopy is a 2018 Adria Altea 402PH Sports Caravan pulled by a 2012 Nissan Navara ST Dual Cab Ute.

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20 July 2019 – Coonabarabran NSW

There were two major reasons in coming to Coonabarabran and today we would address both of them.  Some of the darkest skies in Australia are in this region and as a result of that, Coonabarabran is the home of Australian astronomy via the Siding Springs Observatory.  The area also host several commercial observatories and we were all book to attend one of these tonight.

Prior to the evening, we planned to visit the visitor’s centre at Siding Springs after which we would address the second reason for our visit, that’s being the Warrumbungle National Park.

At 9:30am our friends joined us, and we drove out to the Siding Springs Observatory where we started with coffee in their information centre.  We went to the viewing area of the largest telescope on the site, the Anglo-Australian Telescope, a 4m optical telescope, that is one of many telescopes on this site.

You are also afforded good views into the Warrumbungle National Park from Siding Springs.  “He” was able to use the visit to test camera lens as he is trying to work out the best lens combination for an upcoming trip. We took many pictures of the site.

Leaving Siding Springs and returning to the main road, we turned right and headed into the Warrumbungle National Park.  The scenery here is nothing short of stunning.  We stopped at the park visitor centre only to be asked to leave shortly after arriving as the two staff members wanted to close for lunch.  The sign outside indicated that the centre was open from 9:00am until 4:30pm.  There were a lot of people arriving at the centre only to find the doors locked. This was far from acceptable.

We had a look at a couple of the camping areas and this location definitely warrants a returned visit and overnight stops for a couple of nights.

Returning to Coonabarabran we had lunch in a bistro attached to one of the hotels and then returned to our camp site for showers in preparation of our night at one of the public observatories.  We did manage happy hour plus the opportunity to photograph several kookaburras sitting in the tree above our camp site.

We had booked a visit to an observatory whilst we were in Lightning Ridge and had chosen the day based on the weather forecast and also on the fact that the moon would not rise until 8:18pm and should not impact on the viewing.

The observatory we visited is called the “Warrumbungle Observatory”.  There were four telescopes in an open area and a larger telescope contained in a dome.

The trip there was quick, and we are very happy with our LED driving nights as they certainly add a large degree of safety to night driving.  Actually, when they are off, the normal lights on the Navara are only ordinary.

There were probably about 20 people at the observatory and after an introduction by the amateur astronomer who was running the night, we walked between each of the telescope looking at a different object in the clear night sky.  Tonight, we saw things that we have never seen before.  Galaxies, star clusters, the gap between the rings of Saturn, the spot on Jupiter, the Jewel box and the twin stars of Alpha Centauri. We were there for about 90 minutes and enjoyed every minute of the experience.  We were also able to work out that clothing we planned to take on our next trip to cater for sub zero temperatures will be inadequate and we need to readdress what we will take.  We also were able to get some ideas that will help with the astronomy sessions we hope to host at the Stone the Crows festival next year.

It was very cold when we returned to our campsite.  Our air conditioning works on heat only when the outside temperature is above 4 degrees. Tonight, it would not work. Feeling that the warmest place would be in our bed, it didn’t take us long to head there and enjoy the warmth of our doona.

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