Wednesday, January 23, 2013

siding spring obs fires: a week of waiting

we're still waiting on the results of the soil and air samples that were taken at site this week.   an announcement will be made today by ANU and AAO about the current status of siding spring observatory in the aftermath of the fires, and when staff will safely be able to return to site and start the clean up effort.

until the news appears, i wanted to show some photos taken by photographer joshua smith for reuters.  these show views around the warrumbungle national park 6 days after the wambelong fire did its major damage to the area.

there is the 4-meter anglo-australian telescope (AAT) peaking over the hills and tree bones.  

Credit: Josh Smith
UPDATE (16:15):

this sign is along timor rd from coonabarabran.   when i drove up to the observatory at night, i always looked for it or else i missed the tun up the curvy road to the telescopes.

Credit: Josh Smith
this gives an idea of what the destroyed homes in the area look like.   

Credit: Josh Smith
Credit: Josh Smith
see all 47 photos here.

UPDATE (16:10):  access to siding spring observatory has been suspended until at least 18th february, 2013.  this is due to the continuing safety assessment.   there is a high danger for trees to fall due to weakened soil (what i call "landslides" they call "landslips" - cute!).  there is also asbestos around the sites of the destroyed buildings and other potential hazardous materials. 

as soon as the site opens again, insurance loss assessors will inspect the facilities and site and the staff will begin the cleaning, repairs, and detailed assessment of telescope and instrument status. 

once the site opens for observations again (at the earliest, 18th feb), temporary arrangements will have to be made to house technical staff and astronomers visiting the site.  these details will be revealed when they become relevant. 

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