An astronomy festival that attracts more than 4000 people a year and WA’s oldest observatory have starred at the Premier’s Science Awards overnight.
Astrofest and Perth Observatory jointly took out the Chevron Science Engagement Initiative of the Year for their work using space and the night sky to inspire West Australians.
The award ceremony was held last night at the State Reception Centre, Fraser’s Kings Park.
Astrofest is the largest astronomy festival in the country and one of the biggest science events in Perth.
More than 4000 people attend each year to view the night sky through giant telescopes and hear local researchers and science communicators talk about astronomy.
The festival is coordinated by the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) on behalf of Astronomy WA, and every astronomy organisation in Perth takes part.
The annual event was launched in 2009 by Curtin University, Scitech, the Astronomical Group of WA, the Perth Observatory and ICRAR and is now also supported by CSIRO.
Perth Observatory, WA’s oldest observatory, is situated Bickley in the Perth Hills. The institution has served the state for more than 120 years.
Since July 2015 the Perth Observatory Volunteer Group Inc (POVG) has taken on the challenge to maintain the site. They organise and host more than 200 viewing events each year, offering thousands of visitors an engaging, interactive experience of the vastness and beauty of space.
Last year POVG were awarded almost $1 million in Lotterywest funding to rejuvenate the historic site and create an Aboriginal Astronomy Centre for sharing Sky Stories.
ICRAR Astronomy Ambassador and Astronomy WA co-chair Kirsten Gottschalk said she was delighted that the hard work of so many individuals and organisations has been recognised with a Premier’s Science Award.
“Astrofest is only possible because of the collaborative efforts of an amazing group of amateur astronomers, researchers and astronomy outreach providers all working together,” she said.
“We’re thrilled to receive this award, particularly as 2019 marks Astrofest’s tenth anniversary.”
“Every year we love sharing our incredible night sky and the State’s leading role in global projects like the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) with thousands of West Australians.”
Perth Observatory Volunteer Group Chair Diana Rosman said they are a not for profit volunteer organisation.
“With this award, our volunteers will be re-invigorated to continue to stimulate public interest in astronomy and its history,” she said.
“We are so grateful for the support we have received from Lotterywest, Rotary Kalamunda, local media, businesses and sponsors.”
“The Perth Observatory Volunteer Group is delighted to share this award with our friends at Astronomy WA.”
To book a night sky tour at Perth Observatory, visit perthobservatory.com.au.
Astrofest 2020 will be held on February 29. Visit astronomywa.net.au for more details.