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Dr Buzz Aldrin

Dr Buzz Aldrin with ICRAR outreach staff.

Dr Buzz Aldrin with ICRAR outreach staff.

ICRAR outreach were involved in one of 2012’s most exciting science events when Dr Buzz Aldrin landed in Western Australia to open the new Carnarvon Space and Technology Museum. The second man on the Moon charmed primary school students and adults alike as he recalled his time as an astronaut and the Apollo 11 mission that changed the course of history and inspired a generation. Dr Aldrin shared stories about Neil Armstrong, the cramped conditions in space, trouble getting the flag to stay in the moon’s rocky surface, space food and how he “peed his pants” during the seven-hour moon walk.

ICRAR outreach staff and astronomers were asked to be part of the event and were on hand with telescopes to show the Moon and other objects in the night sky to 400 people at a VIP cocktail event with Dr Aldrin. During the function, ICRAR staff projected a live image of the Moon and spoke to people about what they were able to see through the telescopes.

Dr Andy Thomas

Dr Andy Thomas during a visit to ICRAR's Curtin University node.

Dr Andy Thomas during a visit to ICRAR’s Curtin University node.

Many people might claim to be off the planet or out of this world, but Dr Andy Thomas can back up the statement with solid proof. The Australian-born astronaut has strapped into a NASA Space Shuttle or Russian Soyuz rocket on no less than four occasions.

Dr Thomas visited Perth in September 2010 and gave a talk for 700 students from more than 50 schools across Western Australia. He described what it is like to blast off from Earth at thousands of kilometres an hour, live in orbit and even take a space walk. Dr Thomas encouraged students to think about what they need to do now in order to achieve their potential in the future. Speaking of his own career path Dr Thomas described his passion for engineering and science, which ultimately led him to him becoming an astronaut.

Dr Thomas also spoke to about 300 people as part of an evening for the general public that included a live linkup to the International Space Station. During the event Dr Thomas’s wife, fellow astronaut Dr Shannon Walker, took questions from several students in the audience as she orbited the planet at more than 27,000 km/h.

Dr Thomas’ Perth visit was made possible thanks to the work of the Fogarty Foundation, Scitech and ICRAR, and the events were hosted by The University of Western Australia and Curtin University.

Professor Brian Schmidt

Professor Brian Schmidt speaking to students at Christ Church Grammar School.

Professor Brian Schmidt speaking to students at Christ Church Grammar School.

Over 1,000 people were inspired by astronomy when ICRAR hosted a visit from Nobel Prize winning astrophysicist Professor Brian Schmidt in September 2012. The highlight of the three-day visit was a packed out public lecture in the 650 seat Octagon Theatre at UWA on September 5. Professor Schmidt spoke about his work and the research that won him the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2011, the discovery that the Universe was expanding at an accelerating rate.

He also shared his experience of receiving the Nobel in Stockholm, Sweden, including being picked up by a driver named Stig and the loan of a princess to keep him company during the award ceremony.

Professor Schmidt gave a prime time interview on ABC radio during his visit in Perth and also spent time with smaller audiences, speaking to school students from across the city at Christ Church Grammar School, teenagers at a careers event at the State Library of Western Australia and a breakfast for professional science communicators.