Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Vortex guns and the cosmos

Have you heard of Clement Wragge? I hadn't either but we visited a park in Charleville and found out that he should be more famous. On display are two of the original thirteen Steiger Vortex Guns (invented in Austria to protect vineyards by preventing hailstones from forming - or something like that, don't take my word for it) set up to break the drought. It was a cloud-seeding project, the idea being that gunpowder would be a catalyst for rainfall. It failed. In fact some failed dramatically because they exploded instead of fired!

But Wragge himself turns out to be an interesting man. He was the Queensland Government's first meteorologist. He set up a heap of weather stations and was the first to use data for long-range weather forecasts. He founded the Meteorological Society of Australia and he was the first person to give names to cyclones.

And while we were in Charleville we rugged up and went to the Cosmos Centre at 9.00 at night where we saw cyclones and vortexes and heavens of a different variety - the Milky Way through the telescope. It was a fantastic experience, very well organised and an absolute delight. We saw Saturn and her rings, we saw Alpha Centauri that appears to the eye as a single star but through the telescope its binary nature is clear, we saw the 'jewel box' cluster of stars and we saw the craters and seas on the moon. The three telescopes are controlled by GPS systems and pre-recorded computerised coordinates so the show is very accurate and quick and we all had a chance to look through the eyepiece for each display.


Jules said...

.....and you "found" something there, didn't you!!!

Boobook said...

Hehe! Yes, I have to admit some success:)