Hundreds of astronomy enthusiasts in Australia came together to set the world record for the most number of stargazers at the campus of the Australian National University (ANU) on Friday.
Around 1,609 people from Canberra flocked the ANU's Fellows Oval to participate in an event aimed at breaking the Guinness World Record for the most number of people to observe the stars using binoculars or telescopes simultaneously.
Brad Tucker, an academic at the university's Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics and organizer of the stargazing event, said that the attendees number at about 1,609 individuals during their first count, which was already more than double the old record of 640 individuals.
"It's been quite fantastic and we had a great turnout," Tucker said. "The weather gods smiled gently and kindly on our attempt."
Blasius Kim, a resident of Belconnen who attended the event at the ANU, said that he was doubtful when he saw that the skies were cloudy earlier in the day. He said that he still decided to set up his 500-millimeter telescope on the oval and join the other participants in stargazing.
Kim said that when he arrived at the campus, he was mesmerized by the number of participants who were passionate about stargazing using the little telescopes that they brought with them.
He added that he had no idea that there were many residents of Canberra who would take part in looking at the stars in order to surpass the world record.
Regarding the weather that they experienced during the gathering, Kim said that the conditions were not ideal to stargazing but that did not stop the participants from enjoying the event.
"When the clouds cleared for a minute or two I was able to see Saturn and the rings around Saturn," Kim said. "I could pick out the colors of the rings."
Kim said he also noticed that many of the participants chose to gaze at the moon, while the rest had their smaller telescopes pointed at the direction of the Telstra Tower instead.
"We had a fantastic turnout to smash the old record," Tucker said.
"The clouds over Canberra gave us a few headaches, but they parted long enough for us to see the stars and moon and set a new record."
The attendees at the ANU event was among the more than 15,000 stargazers that was expected to gather in different parts of Australia in a nationwide attempt to surpass the Guinness World Record. The current record holder, Mexico, had around 3,007 stargazers during their own event.
Tucker said the total number of participants all over the country was counted at over 12,000 during the first attempt. The second count, however, was expected to be much higher.