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Outback space adventures

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Yued Elders and community members gathered around the campfire to share stories of stargazing through a rich tapestry of dreamtime stories.

Look up! Our view of the stars in the dark night is unparalleled. The joy of laying back and looking up at the stars is pure, simple bliss. A new project in our region is set to share the word far and wide. ‘Star Tracks’ is a unique space science documentary based around the West Australian outback and world-leading space science projects located there.

Headed up by Carol Redford, Astrotourism WA, and Donna Vanzetti, Beam Me Up Media, the documentary has a focus on the science of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) telescope, Astrotourism and Aboriginal Astronomy, and the program promotes Western Australia as a world-class Astro-Hot Spot.

Filming took place in the Moora and Dandaragan regions just a few weeks back, with locals Tracy Lefroy and Leslee Holmes espousing the value of our dark night skies. “We’ve recognised that our dark night sky is a valuable tourism asset for Moora. By reducing light pollution to protect the view of the stars in the night sky, “astrotourists” will be attracted to visit and that’s great for tourism in our region,” said Tracy Lefroy, Moora Deputy President.

Star Tracks focuses on local characters, welcoming country towns and iconic landscapes. The documentary entwines modern astronomy with ancient Aboriginal astronomy, revealing a deeper significance to the stars overhead. Yued Elders gathered around a campfire near Moora to share some of their stories. “The Yued Aboriginal stories of the night sky are ancient and fascinating. As an Astrotourism destination we have the opportunity for visitors to hear these stories and what the Moora night sky has meant to their people for tens of thousands of years,” said Tracy Lefroy.
The anticipated boost in tourism will hopefully generate new jobs in astro-tourism and build regional capacity by creating opportunities for new Aboriginal enterprise through captivating Aboriginal sky story experiences.

The team behind the filming have unprecedented access to the Square Kilometre Array, the most capable radio telescope ever built and destined to deliver unparalleled breakthroughs in space science research. Scientists suggest they have not yet imagined some of the discoveries it will reveal.

The production has been developed in partnership with the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR), based at the University of Western Australia and Curtin University. They are the major funders of the project and will support the production with episode content and latest science data ensuring accuracy and credibility of information conveyed.

The production will be filmed in HD 4K by an experienced production crew that will include drone footage and astro time-lapse night sky sequences filmed by one of WA’s best astro-photographers, Michael Goh. This program will be aired on Channel Seven Perth later in the year.

This project has been funded by the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research, the Shire of Moora, the Shire of Dandaragan, Iluka Resources and Regional Development RDA Wheatbelt.