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Galaxy greets student stargazers

Three Coonabarabran students will shine bright on national television tonight when they feature on this week's ABC Stargazing Live.

Pinwheel Galaxy

The southern Pinwheel Galaxy captured on an iTelescope by Coonabarabran High students following a tutorial by renowned Canadian astronomy photographer Dr Christian Sasse.

Three Coonabarabran High students have travelled back in time millions of years and have the photographs to prove it.

As part of the lead-up to this week’s ABC TV Stargazing Live event, the students received virtual tutoring in space photography by Canadian-based, renowned astronomy photographer Dr Christian Sasse.

For the tutorial the students – Konna Newton, Ashleigh Smith and Ian Whittall – were given access to the iTelescope at the Siding Springs Observatory in the Warrumbungle Mountains, just west of Coonabarabran.

They then put their new skills into practice capturing incredible images, including a shot of the Southern Pinwheel (Messier 83), a spiral galaxy some 15 million light years from earth – effectively capturing how it looked 15 million years ago.

Their masterly manipulation of the remote access iTelescope was filmed by BBC cameras for an international audience with CSIRO astrophysicist Dr Lisa Harvey-Smith joining the film crew.

A presenter on this week’s Stargazing Live, Dr Harvey-Smith, will also showcase the students’ skills to an Australia-wide television audience tonight.

The students have been invited on set with rock-star scientist Brian Cox and ABC presenter Julia Zemiro for tonight’s live broadcast segment.

Coonabarabran High has enjoyed a strong beneficial relationship with the team at the nearby Anglo-Australian Telescope, the largest optical telescope in Australia.

As well as encouraging an interest in astronomy, the scientists and technicians have been valuable mentors in students’ pursuit of robotics.

On Wednesday night Coonabarabran High hosted a star party as part of the Stargazing Live World Record attempt that was co-ordinated through the ABC across the nation.

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