Hundreds set to scope out Pingelly Astrofest 2021

Child looking in telescope.

The University of Western Australia (UWA) Institute of Agriculture and the Shire of Pingelly have joined forces to deliver a free astronomy festival on Saturday 20 March from 4.30pm to 9pm. 

Stargazers young and old are invited to join the fun at Pingelly Astrofest 2021, with further information and registration available on Eventbrite.

Following its popularity in previous years, Pingelly Astrofest 2021 has outgrown its original location at UWA Farm Ridgefield and will now be held at the Pingelly Recreation & Cultural Centre.

Proudly supported by Lotterywest, the family-friendly event will have a myriad of interesting and engaging activities for all members of the community to learn more about the night sky.

Pingelly Astrofest 2021 will feature a presentation from International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) PhD student Kathryn Ross, guided astronomy tours, state-of-the-art telescopes, hands-on science activities from the UWA School of Agriculture and Environment, and solar system workshops and shows led by Scitech.

The event also offers an astrophotography exhibit, children’s activities at the UWA Farm Ridgefield information booth, community fundraisers and local market stalls – including a Dr Who shop and exhibit from Pingelly Museum’s own Elizabeth Trump.

With Pingelly being just a short drive from Perth, Shire of Pingelly Chief Executive Officer Julie Burton said the town was ideally-positioned on the backdoor of the metropolitan area for visitors to explore the wonders of the night sky absent of artificial light. 

“Pingelly’s collaboration between industry stakeholders and passionate community groups creates a unique and engaging visitor experience to showcase our community’s natural assets,” Ms Burton said. 

The UWA Institute of Agriculture Director Hackett Professor Kadambot Siddique said the Institute started Pingelly Astrofest in 2016 to raise awareness about UWA Farm Ridgefield in the community and make the most of UWA’s strong relationship with ICRAR.  

“Thanks to a lot of hard work from the Institute, ICRAR and Shire, I am confident that this year will be bigger and better-than-ever,” Professor Siddique said.

Since the Perth-based Astrofest has been postponed, UWA-based ICRAR Cosmos Consultant Gregory Rowbotham said the WA astronomy community would be especially excited to share their passion for space with the community.

“It’s always great to get the scopes out and look at the fantastic dark Western Australian night skies,” Mr Rowbothom said. 

“Most city-living people only see a handful of stars and planets at night, but if you head out just a little way to somewhere like Pingelly, the night sky opens up like glittering jewel box. 

“It’s so important for people to realise what a wonderful opportunity a dark night sky actually is and work to protect it for future generations.”