Mothers and daughters in starring role at UWS

Date: 03/06/2002

A series of astronomy nights especially for mothers and daughters will be held at the Nepean Observatory, University of Western Sydney on June 7, 14 and 21, 2002.

According to the Program Director of the Nepean Observatory, Dr Ragbir Bhathal, less than five per cent of the 200 professional astronomers in Australia are women.

"From an equity point of view we need to correct this imbalance between the sexes," Dr Bhathal says.

"We need more girls involved in the study of astronomy, astrobiology and space science engineering. At the moment, we are not tapping the minds of some of our brilliant female students in western Sydney."

The special astronomy night has been organised to specifically interest young girls in astronomy, astrobiology and space engineering.

Daughters and mothers will be shown how to use a telescope as well as learn about the night sky and some of the exciting developments in the field of astronomy, such as the origin of the universe and the presence of extra-terrestrials.

Participants will also learn about astrobiology - a newly emerging field of study offered at the University of Western Sydney.

"The Federal Government's plans for a vibrant space industry will create many exciting career opportunities in astronomy, astrobiology and space science engineering," Dr Bhathal says.

"We are focusing ourselves on the first real growth of jobs in space science in Australia. These careers will be particularly in satellite communications. In line with these career opportunities, UWS will soon offer a new degree in space and satellite engineering.

"In the next 20 years we have the potential to colonise the Moon and Mars. We need to start training our future space men and women."

The astronomy nights will be conducted by experienced stargazers and astronomy guides Melinda Wilson and Stefan Malinowski from the Nepean Observatory.

For bookings contact Roslyn McCourt on (02) 4736 0135. For more information contact Dr Ragbir Bhathal (02) 4736 0834.

WHEN: June 7, 14 and 21, 2002, (Fridays) from 7pm to 9pm

WHERE: University of Western Sydney, Penrith Campus (Werrington North), Nepean Observatory. Turn left off the Great Western Highway, Werrington (travelling east).

For more information or requests for interviews please contact: Suzie Vlaming, Media Officer, (02) 9678 7429, 0414 308 701, email