Although on clear nights you can spot a few stars from Sydney, if you go just outside of the city centre, you will have a much better view. Be careful you’re not trespassing, and happy viewing!
It may not be the darkest sky given you’re right in the city, but they’ve got powerful and historic equipment, including the oldest working telescope in Australia. Nightly two-hour tours of the Observatory include telescope viewing (weather permitting). Watson Rd, Millers Point 2000. $14-$22. Daily 8.15pm.
Airports tend to be isolated and have minimal lights on at night, so are good places for checking out the stars. The best spots are the areas of the airport where golf courses come up to the boundary fence. 3 Avro St, Bankstown 2000.
Katoomba Airfield in the Blue Mountains is great for stargazers: since you’re so far above sea level, Sydney's glow is mostly eliminated. Here, you can actually be able to make out the Milky Way. 178-189 Grand Canyon Rd, Medlow Bath 2780.
Mangrove Mountain is a great spot to check out the stars if you aren't looking to travel too far out of the city itself. It’s an hour and a half from the city, inland from the Central Coast near Peats Ridge, with the viewing benefits of altitude. Mangrove Mountain 2250.
Located 45 minutes north of the CBD, this is one of the closest stargazing spots to the city you’re going to find. The football oval on the edge of the national park is a great place to start. You’ll have no problem spotting Orion, which will help lead you to other constellations. Mount Kuring-gai Oval, Brisbane Ave, Mount Kuring-gai 2080.
Viewing nights take place here through the Northern Sydney Astronomical Society on the Saturdays before and after the new moon. Visitors are invited to at least one viewing night every month (next date: Sat Aug 27). JJ Melbourne Hills Memorial Reserve, Terrey Hills 2084.nsas.org.au/observing/.
Fantastic science events
Talk about a sledgehammer metaphor: when aimless party girl Gloria (Anne Hathaway) starts to slip from casual drinker into full-blown alcoholic, her fractured psyche somehow conjures a thousand-foot lizard in South Korea that destroys anything it touches. That's the starting premise for this determinedly bizarre, psychologically inquisitive and in the end rather wonderful black comedy from Spanish director Nacho Vigalondo. Think Trainwreck meets Pacific Rim, with a dash of Forbidden Planet. Gloria's life is already in decline before Godzilla shows up: she's just been booted out by her prissy New York boyfriend (Dan Stevens), forcing her back to her folks' abandoned home in rustic Nowheresville. It's here that she meets Oscar (Jason Sudeikis), a good-natured small-towner with his own bar, and a close circle of dropout buddies into which Gloria slots neatly. And then Seoul gets flattened, and everything takes a turn for the weird. For the first half, Colossal lurches amusingly if a little awkwardly from smart, snappy indie comedy to oddball disaster movie and back again, carried along by a wry, casually self-mocking performance from Hathaway (complete with a monster fringe). But every time it seems poised to tip into nod-wink hipster self-parody the plot twists, the intrigue deepens and everything gets a little sharper and more savage. Not everyone here is quite who they appear to be, and the city-smashing antics begin to take a back seat to the gripping, at times bruta
Spiders – Alive and Deadly is an exhibition dedicated to our beloved arthropod friends. You'll learn all there is to know about spiders, including their venom and silk, where they live, how they hunt, how they have adapted to changing environments and the critical role they play in our ecosystem. There are over 400 real specimens to see, including 30 alive and deadly spiders such as the funnel web, red back and tarantula. There’s also a venom lab where there'll be venom milking every day, as well as a cobweb room where visitors can witness the world’s largest cobwebs made by the golden orb spider. Plus, you can hear about how spider silk is used for the latest technologies (from medical sutures to rubber tyres) to how scientists are using funnel web venom to help cure ovarian cancer. The exhibition will also be screening the documentary, Sixteen Legs – a story, based on the book by Neil Gaiman, about two Tasmanian Cave Spiders who fall in love and come together in darkness.
Experimentations is a permanent exhibition at Powerhouse Museum that first opened in 1988. It’s had a recent update to introduce 2017 learning frameworks and it’s now the most interactive part of the Museum. Kids can get hands-on with science and design experiments with the opportunity to make, break and create. The exhibition is open daily and it’s free with museum entry. Experimentations is suitable for ages 5-12.
The Sydney Science Festival returns for the third year this August. Presented as part of National Science Week, the festival will bring together the best Australian and international scientific minds to present an interactive program for all ages. Among the jam-packed line up will be Science in the Swamp at Centennial Park, the Sky Photos exhibition at Sydney Observatory and the Powerhouse Museum’s Family Day. The highlight of this year’s festival will be the This is a Voice exhibition which delves into the relationship between the human voice and identity. After entering into an echoless chamber, visitors will be taken on an aural journey full of strange and glorious sounds that will challenge their conception of the human voice. Young and old, get involved.
Head down to the Powerhouse Museum for the world premiere of Egyptian Mummies: Exploring Ancient Lives, on now. The exhibition is an interactive display of six mummies who lived and died in Egypt between 900 BC and AD 40, alongside 200 objects which provide a snapshot of life in Ancient Egypt. The mummies have been transported from the British Museum’s collection after being scanned at Royal Brompton Hospital using non-invasive CT scans (they’re very precious) and 3D visualisation technology. The scans, which will be on display in the exhibition, reveal the age, diet and sex of these ancient beings, and the accompanying artefacts explore the themes of mummification, divinity and elements of these people’s lives, such as their musical instruments, medicine and children's toys. “The mummies aren’t really all that different to ourselves,” says Melanie Pitkin, Egyptologist and exhibition curator. “Mummification is really just an expression of the Ancient Egyptian’s fear of dying – a fear that we still have today. “The Egyptians believed that once you died, your body became fragmented. Your soul would become separate to your body and the only way for your soul to recognise you again [in the afterlife] was to try and make your body look real again. Mummification is all about preserving yourself, because if you preserve yourself you can have an altered state of existence in another world after death.” But the process of mummification is a whole lot different to any funerary
Blue Mountains-based artists David Haines and Joyce Hinterding sent a payload 33,722 metres into space, with recording devices to capture the audio and footage. A few hours later, they retrieved it – with the recordings intact. You'll be able to see and hear the results of that mini space odyssey when Haines and Hinterding unveil their latest artwork as part of the exhibition Gravity (and Wonder), at Penrith Regional Gallery.