26 August 2003

Sydney Morning Herald | Rein in that Mars frenzy - it's still 55 million kilometres away:
NSW has a wealth of small observatories open to the public.

The astronomy enthusiasts who run them, inundated with inquiries about viewing Mars, are treading a delicate balance between encouraging excitement at the closest approach of the planet in recorded history and providing a realistic view about what people can expect to see down a telescope.

Peter Neilson, manager of Dubbo Observatory, said he made a point of showing people pictures first, so they knew what to look for. In the case of Mars, this was the glow of the polar caps, and the black marking of three volcanoes.

'Any level of interest in astronomy is good. But it's a matter of expectation,' he said.

Well, Peter's observatory and the Mars perigee are my excuse for visiting Dubbo. Peter told me Dubbo has been hit by Mars frenzy. It was great. And the sheep were nervous.

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