LAST Friday night over 200 people were keen to make history at the Ballarat Observatory by taking part in the attempt at the Guinness World Record for Most People Stargazing Across Multiple Sites in a Country.
The call went out for at least 3000 people across the country and the call was heard. At the Ballarat Observatory a last minute burst of attendees had organisers making an additional group and in a mild evening for Ballarat, the clouds parted and people stood, settled in chairs or lay on the grass to look at the sky continuously for a whole ten minutes – 8.30pm to 8.40 pm – and in complete silence.
At approximately 8.25 the gates to the observatory were locked, binoculars and telescopes of all sizes were pointed skywards and the stewards began the countdown. Independent witnesses made sure that the strict rules were adhered to. The ten minutes passed and to a cheer of ‘Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oy, Oy, Oy’ participants congratulated themselves on completing the challenge. It was an opportunity that some said was too good to pass up and a cheap telescope for future use was a bargain.
Ballarat Observatory Manager Judith Bailey said she was thrilled with the number of participants. Officials say that exact numbers won’t be known until the end of the week, but it appears about triple the previous record (unofficially 8,366).