Here we come to a turning of the season. As the Earth completes its arc towards the Sun, we reflect on the end of 2020, and the beginning of 2021.

Firstly, thank you to all Perth Observatory volunteers for your dedication and contributions to Perth Observatory. Your dedication is what keeps Western Australia’s oldest observatory running day and night. We’re all too aware of how tough this past year has been on visitors and volunteers alike; with the reasonable sacrifices to our personal freedoms contending with our fears of a virus outbreak and business uncertainty. But 2020 has also been a year of achievement in the face of adversity.

Perth Observatory | 2020 in numbers

  • 154 Perth Observatory volunteers contributed 22,603 hours to Western Australia
  • 93 Night Sky Tours entertained 4,191 visitors
  • 17 Day School Tours welcomed 567 children and 204 adult visitors
  • 22 Exclusive Night Tours ushered in 550 visitors
  • 12 Exclusive Day Tours greeted 152 visitors
  • 12 stars ‘adopted’

With our R-COP telescope, Perth Observatory continues contributing to international astronomy research. Engaging with international universities, in January 2020 we started nightly observations of what initially was believed to be an exoplanet transit.

Perth Observatory was the only observatory continuing nightly observations of J0600 during the COVID-19 lockdown, and observations continued with our data credited in international scientific publications.

Work continues in our library without fanfare and only a little recognition. In addition to journals and papers, we have 2,145 catalogued books of astronomy significance in the library. In February this year, we opened the Worl Wangkiny Aboriginal Astronomy Centre and we’ve incorporated it into some of our tours, and in September we welcomed Perth Observatory’s first beekeeper.

With our frequently changing state border, the WA Government has developed the free SafeWA app, an online contact register system for COVID-19 that uses QR codes for observatory visitors and staff to scan and register their attendance. You’ll find the Perth Observatory QR code and hanging in the foyer when you visit us for a tour (or to volunteer) and if you’re not using the app, we have a file in the foyer to record your details on paper.

Our increased cleaning continues, our dedicated Hygiene Officer remains on all tours, and we offer all Perth Observatory volunteers AHA Hospitality and Tourism COVID-19 Hygiene Training. Our commitment to everyone’s safety remains resolute.

I hope to see you all soon under the summer sky’s stars at Perth Observatory!

Dr Colin Armstrong