Get Regular Updates!
Search

Space

image|

AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award

Astrotourism in rural WA

Astrotourism in rural WA

Stargazer Carol Redford shines a light on WA dark skies, securing a future for agricultural towns in spite of climate change.

Astrotourism in rural WA

When Carol Redford and her business partner took over what was the Gingin Observatory (now the Gravity Discovery Centre Observatory) in 2007, she didn’t realise that it would awake in her an undiscovered passion for stargazing.

More than a decade later, she’s been announced as a finalist in the 2018 AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award for her plan to create an astrotourism hot spot in WA’s Wheatbelt and Mid West regions.

ALL OF THE LIGHTS

Light pollution might not be the first thing that springs to mind when thinking of modern environmental disasters (granted, there are many).

But ever since Edison first invented the bulb, light has been steadily infiltrating our night skies.

Video|NASA
Earth at Night

Though our planet may look pretty lit up from space, the view from Earth is much more dismal.

View Larger
Image|Jeremy Stanley
The constellation Orion, shown on the left in dark skies and on the right from a city

“There are people in this world who can’t see a single star, let alone the billions that we can see from regional WA,” says Carol.

In urban areas, excessive use of lighting in homes and on the streets has dimmed the brilliance of the stars above.

But regional parts of WA, isolated as they are, have a natural buffer from the spreading glow of Perth. It’s these dark regions that make Carol believe that WA has a bright future.

ASTROPHOTOGRAPHY FOR THE FUTURE

Carol’s dream is to create a dedicated trail of astrotourism towns that takes stargazers on a guided tour through our Wheatbelt and Mid West.

She says it will create a safe space for photographers and casual night sky observers where they can be sure that they’re not trespassing onto private property. The trail will also help them to identify viewpoints and features of the landscape that will give their photos character.

View Larger
Image|Dualiti Photos
Carol’s trail of astrotourism towns will identify locations and environmental features that will add character to photographs

Astrophotography and astronomy attract a passionate dedicated bunch, and Carol hopes that the trail will draw these additional visitors to Wheatbelt and Mid West towns. Traditionally, these towns rely on agriculture for income, but dwindling rainfall is threatening the livelihoods of farmers as well as the thousands of wildflowers that normally act as a tourist drawcard from late August to October.

But with this astronomical plan, Carol hopes tourists will flock to the area for astrophotography and observing all year round, securing an income for these towns for as long as the stars exist.

TRAILING THE STARS

Many animals gaze at the stars, but humans are one of the only species that are capable of feeling that intense admiration for the beauty of the night sky. We’re also conscious enough to comprehend our insignificance, a feeling often brought on by gazing out into our galaxy.

Carol believes these intense human experiences are something that people will travel from all around the country and the world for.

She says there’s great potential to weave Aboriginal Dreamtime stories through the trail, offering international tourists a completely unique way to experience the stars.

The main challenge will be to help regional towns understand just how precious their night skies are as a resource.

“WA has advantages for stargazing that others are missing out on.”

“WA has advantages for stargazing that others are missing out on,” says Carol.

Because we’re in the southern hemisphere, we get to see the better part of the Milky Way. The fact that Perth is an extremely isolated capital city is also very unique. But WA is also home to world-class astronomical science.

These factors all conspire to make our state a great place for everyone to come stargazing.

Once this is realised, the next step will be figuring out how to protect our dark skies.

Thankfully, the International Dark-Sky Association has the resources to help. They work to provide the information that people need to minimise the amount of light escaping into the night sky, including things such as identifying ideal light fixtures.

View Larger
Image|Lamiot
The type of fitting used can greatly impact how much light pollution is emitted into the sky

Carol will work with local governments to embed these ideas in policy and town planning, preserving our little patch of darkness as the world continues to get brighter and brighter.

If you want to minimise the amount of light you contribute to our night skies, head to this site for some illuminating information.

WA Underdogs VIDEO

Republish

Creative Commons Logo

Republishing our content

We want our stories to be shared and seen by as many people as possible.

Therefore, unless it says otherwise, copyright on the stories on Particle belongs to Scitech and they are published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

This allows you to republish our articles online or in print for free. You just need to credit us and link to us, and you can’t edit our material or sell it separately.

Using the ‘republish’ button on our website is the easiest way to meet our guidelines.

Guidelines

You cannot edit the article.

When republishing, you have to credit our authors, ideally in the byline. You have to credit Particle with a link back to the original publication on Particle.

If you’re republishing online, you must use our pageview counter, link to us and include links from our story. Our page view counter is a small pixel-ping (invisible to the eye) that allows us to know when our content is republished. It’s a condition of our guidelines that you include our counter. If you use the ‘republish’ then you’ll capture our page counter.

If you’re republishing in print, please email us to let us so we know about it (we get very proud to see our work republished) and you must include the Particle logo next to the credits. Download logo here.

If you wish to republish all our stories, please contact us directly to discuss this opportunity.

Images

Most of the images used on Particle are copyright of the photographer who made them.

It is your responsibility to confirm that you’re licensed to republish images in our articles.

Video

All Particle videos can be accessed through YouTube under the Standard YouTube Licence.

The Standard YouTube licence

  1. This licence is ‘All Rights Reserved’, granting provisions for YouTube to display the content, and YouTube’s visitors to stream the content. This means that the content may be streamed from YouTube but specifically forbids downloading, adaptation, and redistribution, except where otherwise licensed. When uploading your content to YouTube it will automatically use the Standard YouTube licence. You can check this by clicking on Advanced Settings and looking at the dropdown box ‘License and rights ownership’.
  2. When a user is uploading a video he has license options that he can choose from. The first option is “standard YouTube License” which means that you grant the broadcasting rights to YouTube. This essentially means that your video can only be accessed from YouTube for watching purpose and cannot be reproduced or distributed in any other form without your consent.

Contact

For more information about using our content, email us: particle@scitech.org.au

Copy this HTML into your CMS
Press Ctrl+C to copy

We've got chemistry. Want something physical?