Sydney Observatory's newly-appointed Astronomy Ambassador, Gamilaraay Astrophysicist Karlie Noon, is hosting a tour of the night sky from a First Nations perspective for National Science Week.
By
Rae Johnston

Source:
NITV News
20 Aug 2020 - 5:38 PM  UPDATED 20 Aug 2020 - 11:56 PM

When representatives from Sydney Observatory told Gamilaraay woman Karlie Noon they would like her to be the organisation's first Astronomy Ambassador, she could barely believe it. 

"It's so exciting. I was like 'What? Are you for real? Me?'", Ms Noon told NITV News. "Honestly, It's been some of the best news that I've received in 2020."

"It's honestly a dream job, The fact that people appreciate the service us science communicators are trying to provide for the public, it's amazing recognition, and I cannot wait to see what we do."

Ms Noon has "big hopes" for the role, which includes assisting up-and-coming science communicators in building their profile and engaging with audiences they usually wouldn't have access to. 

"Another part of it is just really talking to as many people as I can about space, astronomy and maths - all the things I'm obsessed with and love talking about anyway."

One of the first projects Ms Noon will be working on, as part of National Science Week and the Sydney Science Trail, is a livestream from the Sydney Observatory on Saturday, August 22 at 6:30 pm - just as the sun is starting to set, and the night sky starts to shine. 

Ms Noon sees the event as an opportunity to introduce herself to people who may be familiar with the observatory, but maybe not familiar with her and her work. 

"We have this amazing telescope we are going to be using at the Sydney Observatory, and I'm just going to be having a bit of a yarn with everyone," said Ms Noon. 

"It's like a tour of the late winter night sky, and we will essentially be looking at a bunch of my favourite sky objects. Planets, stars, constellations, and deep-sky objects that are sometimes difficult to see, especially for us city folk."

The "sky object" that will be taking centre stage is the moon. Ms Noon said we could look at it from many different perspectives. 

"We can look at our understanding of how the moon came to be, our understanding of what it's made up of - all that cool science content," said Ms Noon. "But then there is the perspective of the Gamilaraay people. I'll be sharing a little bit of my knowledge, and my mob's knowledge - on that topic and the sky in general."

Ms Noon is no stranger to National Science Week, which she prefers to call National Science Month due to the interest generated around the week.   

"It seems that people can't get enough of it, and that's great, let's keep doing that!" said Ms Noon. 

"It's this time of the year where I get to talk to people who love science, are interested in science, want to know more but haven't had access to it in the past or maybe they haven't had the confidence to approach it or learn more about it.

Ms Noon acknowledged science could be a little intimidating.

"For me, I think science week is just helping those people where the interest is there, and the love is there, but maybe they can't grab on to it. Science week does that for you, it's beautifully packaged in this wonderful month - or week, whatever -  and there are so many things you can look at."

This year, like many other events, National Science week is online. Ms Noon sees this as an opportunity to give more people access to science goodness. 

"You don't even have to leave your house, and you could be joining in events that are happening all across the country," said Ms Noon. "Whatever you're interested in, there is something there for you, and there's an awesome person on the other side of the screen who is willing to have a chat with you about it."

"I just love that it is for everyone, it's for our young people and for our old people asking those questions that maybe they've been thinking for years, but don't have access to ask it.

"It's really about starting conversations."

As Australia's space discoveries shine, Indigenous astrophysicists detect lack of inclusion
Over the last 10 years, Australian physicists and astronomers played a key part in some of the biggest scientific discoveries. Here's why we are punching well above our weight, and why a lack of Indigenous inclusion is still a big problem.