SkyWatch in the Flinders Ranges

Dean Davidson’s Skywatch portable planetarium was thrilling children at Leigh Creek Area School and Marree Area School this week, followed by community astronomy night viewings. The famously dark skies of the Flinders Ranges availed excellent views of the Milky Way and the Dark Emu. Saturn and Jupiter were crowd-pleasers, as always.

Jupiter’s diminishing Great Red Spot

The Great Red Spot of Jupiter is appearing to unravel. Where once the great storm could encompass three earths, it is now diminishing to the size of one earth. The Great Red Spot is shedding a succession of jet streams as long as 10,000km long, as captured by an amateur astronomer.

Image by Anthony Wesley of Australia, 19/5/19

Jupiter is currently rising in the constellation Ophiuchus, easy to find by association with nearby Scorpius.

This nifty little calculator will tell you what time the Great Red Spot transits into visibility at your latitude / longtitude.

Astronomy night

April Astronomy night under the brilliant Flinders Ranges skies showcased a line up including the new moon, the Orion Nebula, some fabulous clusters, the Tarantula Nebula, globular cluster 47 Tucana, and a look at different types of star such as Betelgeuse and Sirius.

Orion Nebula

Local mineral smelting workshop for kids

Step 1. Grind up mineral-rich rocks found in the area, including Hematite,  Galena and earthy Malachite and Azurite.

Step 2. Smelting. To smelt iron oxide, charcoal was used to covert the oxygen into carbon dioxide, leaving iron. To smelt galena, lead sulphide, heat alone released the sulphur, leaving lead (seen below).

Geological Exhibit at Leigh Creek Library

After many months in the making, the new geological exhibit for the Leigh Creek Library is now on display.

The collection contains 99 rock and mineral specimens, primarily from the Flinders Ranges, Gammon Ranges and Strzelecki Track area, along with a handful of interesting samples from Broken Hill and WA.

A full catalogue of the collection is available for download below. The display can be viewed from 8:30 – 4:30 on weekdays, Friday evenings and Saturday mornings (closed until 1pm on weekdays during school holidays).

Download catalogueLC.library.geology.catalogue


19 Threatened Flinders Ranges Bird Species Nominated for Federal Protection

The William Light Foundation, a not for profit organisation based in the Flinders Ranges,  have nominated 33 native species (Birds and Flora) for listing under any of the categories specified in the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).

The species nominated for protection are listed by the State Classifications of South Australia as Critically Endangered, Endangered, Rare or Vulnerable (South Australian National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972) but are as yet not listed under any of the categories of the EPBC Act.

They include 16 species of plant and the following 19 species of threatened birds:

Continue reading “19 Threatened Flinders Ranges Bird Species Nominated for Federal Protection”

Birds SA survey of Copley Retention Dam and Aroona Dam

On April 3-4th, 2018, 12 experienced birders with 5 spotting scopes, the usual binoculars and cameras with telephoto lens participated in a bird survey in waterways in the Copley Area.

69 species were recorded in two days.

Notes to accompany the  Bird Record Forms attached:

  1.  Retention Dam was surveyed twice. We did not walk around the whole dam but did walk from the northern “beach” end to the area where the creek flows in. The spotting scopes allowed us to scan the far side quite efficiently.
  2.  The “overflow” water over the main road north of Copley on the way to Lyndhurst was only surveyed once from midday or two hours. This was not an optimum time for birding.
  3. Aroona Dam was surveyed once – around the base of the dam wall and also from the top car park area.

Birds SA Reports

Copley – Leigh Creek Retention Dam 3 April 2018

Copley – Leigh Creek Retention Dam 4 April 2018

Copley – Leigh Creek Aroona Dam 4 April 2018

Copley – Leigh Creek Overflow 4 April 2018