I’ve just arrived on site at the Ayers Rock Resort, in the Central Australian desert near Uluru. I’m pretty wiped already from a long, hard, but rewarding week of conferencing at another resort in Coffs Harbour, about which more later. But yeah, here in the Red Centre of Australia, this is going to be a proper adventure.
A bit of background: CAASTRO, the ARC Centre of Excellence for wide-field astronomy based at the University of Sydney, has recently started running an “Astronomer-In-Residence” program together with Voyages, a tourism company operating out of Ayers Rock Resort. Voyages runs astronomy tours — honestly, I’m can’t-even-ing out on how breathlessly awesome the night sky is gonna be out here — and want to add some flavor to their product by bringing in a professional astronomer to answer questions about the Universe for the public. This is great for CAASTRO, part of the mission of which is innovation for high-impact public outreach. So CAASTRO sends an astronomer out to the desert, and the astronomer helps with the sky tours, and in return gets free room, board, and adventures, plus a beautiful retreat-style natural setting in which to do his/her research.
So I was like, um, yes please?
It took a while for me to get things figured out, and I was pretty blood-sugar-deprived after a long flight and a not-entirely-healthy breakfast. But I eventually found my room, found the market square, got my groceries and fed myself, so now I’m in a much better position to be stoked about the experience. Here’s what the view looks like from near my room:
Yeah. Sign me up. Junkets ahoy!
We also get a Twitter account which we can use to publicize our CAASTRO-related activities on site. So anyone who wants to watch me struggle with social media, now’s a great time! I’m contemplating getting my own Twitter account as well in case the experience turns out to be less sucky than Facebook.
Later tonight I’m going to go out so that last week’s Astronomer-In-Residence can show me how it’s done (before he takes off tomorrow). Until then I’m gonna try my best to relax a bit!