The destruction of the Mount Stromlo Observatory naturally dominated talk at work today. Although the ATNF runs radio telescopes, most people here have strong connections with the observers of the optical wavelengths at Stromlo. We have sent offers of support, including the use of our facilities, to the displaced Stromlo people. While we were playing our lunchtime cricket, I thought I saw our Deputy Director being interviewed by a TV crew. I’m sure that it was related to the fires.
I read today that emergency workers have bulldozed a 4 lane highway wide path around Canberra’s north-western suburbs in an effort to protect them from oncoming fires. I used to live in Higgins, on the edge of Belconnen and probably one of the suburbs behind the barrier. A short walk from my house would take me across to farmland from where I could look down towards the Molongolo Valley and across to the Brindabellas. When my mind needed refreshing, I would take an evening walk along Drake Brockman Drive, watching the Sun set behind the mountain range. Then I would look south and see the white speck of an observatory dome atop Mt Stromlo. In some small way I felt part of the quest for a greater understanding of the universe.