The Border Stargaze is a great example of how a small initiative developed by enthusiastic locals has blossomed into an annual festival that now attracts hundreds of people, including astronomers from all over Australia.
The Border Stargaze has grown in seven years from a small event run by the Astronomical Society of Albury Wodonga into an annual Science Fair jointly presented with Charles Sturt University during National Science Week.
With a mix of debates, interactive science activities and popular night-time sky tours, the Border Stargaze attracted participation by Nobel Prize winner for physics, Dr Brian Schmidt, as a guest speaker in 2012.
The 2013 program is shaping up to be equally as exciting, with a line up of speakers, schools outreach events and community activities held in multiple locations.
One of the founders of the Border Stargaze is Dave Thurley who says that its success is due to passion, enthusiasm and close collaboration of amateur astronomers with professional scientists from Charles Sturt University.
Big dreams and ambitious planning have enabled this group of self-confessed science nuts to develop their increasingly popular program. Strong support from councils in both Albury and Wodonga helps, as does the participation of many other community groups who host satellite events.
For David, the most rewarding aspect of the Border Stargaze is seeing how much fun participants of all ages and cultural backgrounds experience as they learn about astronomy and other sciences and take part in night time sky tours.
Friendships are formed and stories are shared, making the festival a true community building exercise. To this end, the program mixes up hands on, science activities with displays, demonstrations and talks so that there is something for everyone.
In addition to the Science Fair that will be held as part of National Science Week from 10-18 August, the Border Stargaze will present 4 days of stargazing, talks and other activities in September at a local holiday park where participants can stay overnight in order to take advantage of the night skies.
Find out more: www.asaw.org.au