27May2018

ANU Eclipses Its Own Stargazing World Record

The crowd at the Australian National University's Fellows Oval begins to swell as more people arrive for an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the most people simultaneously stargazing at multiple venues.

The crowd at the Australian National University’s Fellows Oval begins to swell as more people arrive for an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the most people simultaneously stargazing at multiple venues. Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong

The Australian National University has smashed its own Guinness World Record for the most people stargazing at multiple venues.My group Mid North Coast Astronomy played a big part in our town as well.

More than 40,000 people across Australia turned their eyes to the sky at more than 280 events across Australia on Wednesday night, with more than 3500 of those at the university’s Acton campus.

Speaking before the numbers had been confirmed, Dr Brad Tucker, from the university’s research school of astronomy and astrophysics, said with a huge increase in the number of sites participating across Australia this time, the record had almost certainly been eclipsed.

Anthony and Holly Todd of Belconnen drew a constant stream of admirers during the stargazing Guinness World Record attempt with their homemade Dobsonian telescope.

Anthony and Holly Todd of Belconnen drew a constant stream of admirers during the stargazing Guinness World Record attempt with their homemade Dobsonian telescope. Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong

“Unofficially, it’s looking like being two or three times bigger than the current record,” he said, underestimating the final result of more than five times the 2015 mark.

“We believe there were between 3500 and 4000 in Canberra alone, and we actually had another site at Parliament House, where a number of MPs and senators came out of their offices and participated. “The fact that we had close to 300 stargazing paries across Australia is just incredible.”

Australian National University microbiology student Mahboobeh Behruznia scans the sky during an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the most people simultaneously stargazing at multiple venues.

Australian National University microbiology student Mahboobeh Behruznia scans the sky during an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the most people simultaneously stargazing at multiple venues. Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong

Dr Tucker also led a citizen science project to search for new exploding stars in space, known as supernovae. He said at least three were discovered on Wednesday night, with all of them between 940 million light years and 1.1 billion light years from Earth.

Dr Karl Kruszelnicki accepts the Guiness World Record

“That might seem far away, but the universe is almost 14 billion years old, so that’s actually fairly nearby,” Dr Tucker said. “It’s actually right in the range that we want, because when we’re measuring supernova that are further away, we want to have something close by to compare it to. “They couldn’t have been more perfect discoveries.”

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