PERTH became known as ‘The City of Light,’ after American astronaut, John Glenn passed over Western Australia during his first earth orbit in ‘Friendship 7’ on 20th February 1962.
Glenn was the first American to orbit the earth in a space capsule and asked at the time, what was causing the brightness on the land below him. Some Perth residents may remember turning their house lights on for the astronaut, or shining torches up at the sky. This effort lit up Perth so brightly that it was a spectacular spot in contrast to the darkness of rural Western Australia and the Indian Ocean.
Now, exactly fifty years to the date, Perth will celebrate The City of Light festival in Northbridge Piazza on Monday 20th February in honour of the anniversary. The WA State Records Office, the WA Museum, the City of Perth, the Amateur Radio International Space Station, the Hills Amateur Radio Group and of course NASA have organised this wonderful family event. Perth residents are invited to join in celebration when ten lucky primary and secondary school students, winners of a competition that asked, ‘what would you ask an astronaut?’ will make audio and video contact with the International Space Station.
I’m both excited and curious to find out what unique questions they’ve come up with! There will be lots of other space-themed activities as well, including displays of radio and optical telescopes and museum exhibits. I am pleased to be presenting a talk on what WA was doing in 1962 to support the spacecraft’s journey, how we have benefited from the space research program, and the interesting astronomy research currently underway in WA.
What: The City of Light festival, celebrating WA's contribution to space travel and 50 years since Perth was named the ‘City of Light.'
Where: Northbridge Piazza
Who: Families and public of all ages, with talks from WA’s Chief Scientist Professor Lyn Beazley and the WA Museum’s Head of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Dr Alex Bevan.
When: Monday 20th February, 5pm onwards.
For more information on how to join in the celebration, check out the museum’s site here.
And the State Records Office here.