Transit of Venus – not brought to you by Australian knowhow

Ever see a movie called The Dish? It’s the vaguely true but exaggerated for laughs story of the role of the Parkes Observatory in New South Wales in broadcasting live TV images from the Apollo 11 moon landing. It’s true in that the radio telescope at Parkes was used during the first moon landing, but it’s exaggerated in that the film shows various things going wrong which really didn’t as well as what’s probably a pretty unreliable method of working out where to aim the the dish.


Though this cricket scene was filmed in the real dish at Parkes Observatory

However, NASA might have taken this light hearted movie as a warning that Australia might stuff up things up for broadcasting important, almost one off, events in space, and you could argue that they’d have been right to do so.

NASA is missing out on Venus’s once-in-a-lifetime transit of the Sun because a roadworker severed a Telstra wire in the Northern Territory.

The incident happened yesterday afternoon near Mataranka and has cut many Northern Territory Telstra customers south of the town – including Alice Springs and Tennant Creek.

About 2000 “bay stations” are out of action in the NT – cutting landlines, mobile, and internet services.

But Telstra spokeswoman Jane DeGault said: “The reason Alice is upset about it is because they’re transmitting to NASA because they are in the best position in the world to see it,” she said.

“They are understandably upset.”

“Let’s hope these services will be restored and some transmission can be sent to NASA.”

But Telstra spokeswoman Jane DeGault said the repair work was hoped to be finished at about 3pm. But Venus is expected to finish it’s transit at 2.03pm.

Art imitating life, eh? Never mind. They can always put their video up on YouTube and send NASA a bunch of daffs to say sorry.

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Posted on June 6, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. Wanted to wake up for it but didn’t. Damn.

  2. Recorded the whole thing off the NASA Edge webcast. Watched the start, then got home in time to watch the finish. Too cloudy up here for a direct sighting. Then went to pick up my Youngest from Victoria airport, and forty K south of here it was bright sunshine all the way.

  3. C/O WUWT is this HD video compilation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Z9rM8ChTjY

  4. “Ever see a movie called The Dish?”

    I picked it up on DVD about a year ago (for about 50p at a boot sale). I’ve never yet got around to watching it…

  5. The then Director of the Parkes Observatory, John Bolton, insisted on a one-line contract with NASA:

    “The [CSIRO] Radiophysics Division would agree to support the Apollo 11 mission”

    Can’t get any more libertarian than that fucker – lawyers be damned.

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