Cosmic stars converge over Cairns
SOME of the world's leading astrophysicists are on the Tableland ahead of next week's solar eclipse, sharing their knowledge of the universe with students at a conference at Atherton State High School.
Among those attending will be physics and cosmology Nobel prize winner, Dr Carl Pennypacker of UC Berkley, and the men who discovered the Comet Hale-Bopp, Alan Hale and Tom Bopp.
Students will also be able to grill dark matter specialist, Dr Allan Ernest, of Charles Sturt University, Professor Graeme White, former director of astronomy at JCU, and French astronomer Michel Saye, an expert in exo-planets (planets around other stars) about the mysterious workings of the heavens. About 60 youth aged 10 to 17 will attend the four-day conference from next Tuesday until Friday at Tinaroo Active Recreation Centre.
Atherton High School, which runs the only astronomy and astrophysics course in the country, is hosting the event.
In 2010, a number of gifted students at the school were asked by the Astronomical Society of Australia to find the best place to watch the eclipse and they identified a place near Bob's Lookout on the Mulligan Highway.
Head of senior schooling and astronomy and astrophysics teacher, David Platz, who organised the conference, said getting such luminaries for the conference was a major coup for the school, but one that had taken three years to plan.
Those taking part will head off to Maitland Downs Station on Tuesday afternoon, make camp and set up telescopes and equipment to do some night sky observations.
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Comet connection: Alan Hale and Thomas Bopp.