We all want our kids to reach for the stars and the students from Domremy College have achieved something quite literally out of this world.
The Five Dock secondary school helped the Australian National University (ANU) smash its Guinness World Record for the Most People Stargazing across multiple venues at the same time.
About 150 students, teachers and parents braved the cold but clear conditions to join 40,000 people across Australia to smash the previous record set in 2015 with just 7960 registered participants.
The successful attempt was televised on the ABC’s Stargazing Live episode and helped identify two new Type 1a supernovas, which are exploding stars used by scientists to measure the universe.
The effort was so great – five times more people than the previous record – that Guinness World Record officials were unable to count final numbers but have confirmed the attempt a resounding success.
Domremy College science co-ordinator Matt Couani said the school community was very proud to now be a world record holder.
And he said the event was extra special as the record was not only educational but also a lot of fun.
“It was quite a sight to see 150 people on the ground with telescopes looking up to the skies,” he said.
“As it was an official world record attempt we needed to follow strict guidelines devised by Guinness which included having participants look through a telescope or binoculars for an uninterrupted period of 10 minutes.
“On the night we also had an official photographer and videographer gathering visual evidence of the attempt, two official witnesses, two official timekeepers and an official steward.
“It’s quite a difficult feat to look up at the moon for an uninterrupted period of 10 minutes so we recommended participants bring bean-bags, yoga mats or blankets to lie on as it was easier than standing up.
“It really was a sight to see, everyone stargazing and helping to re-write the history books.
“‘Many of the girls at the school love astronomy and if it alone were offered as a senior science I’m quite sure they would choose it.”
ANU astronomer Dr Brad Tucker led the citizen science project and said the fact that tens of thousands of citizens took part was incredible.
He said the volunteer stargazers helped to make more than 1,700,000 classifications in our search for exploding stars in the Universe.
“Stargazing shows that science is not just about a few people in lab coats doing work, but that science is everywhere and we can all get involved,” he said.
“A professional astronomer would need nearly two years to do the same amount of work, so it’s an incredible achievement.
“Events like the world-record attempt and asking for help with searching for new exploding stars just goes to show that science really is for everyone.
“It has been a great showcase of astronomy and all the great work we are doing in Australia …. who knows, it might have inspired the next Nobel Prize winner.”