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City of Light

16 Jan 2012
City of Light poster

On February 20, this year, WA will celebrate the 50th anniversary of a very significant event.  On that day in 1962, John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth in the Friendship 7 spacecraft. On this mission, Glenn flew over Perth and the people of Perth turned on their lights to acknowledge his mission. Glenn observed that the city was clearly visible from space and Perth became known worldwide as the ‘City of Light’.  This early space exploration mission set the stage for the Gemini and Apollo programs which culminated in NASA landing men on the moon.

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of Glenn’s orbit, on Monday 20 February 2012 an outdoor public event will be staged in the Northbridge Piazza, featuring a live audio and video link to the International Space Station as it orbits the Earth.

This free public event is being organised by the State Records Office of Western Australia and the WA Museum working with the City of Perth, the Hills Amateur Radio Group, the Amateur Radio International Space Station and NASA.

State Archivist Cathrin Cassarchis said the highlight of the event will be an opportunity for young people to speak with and ask questions of the astronauts on the International Space Station.

“Young people will be selected through an online competition in which they are asked to come up with their original questions for the astronauts. Up to 10 school aged children will be chosen to ask their question of the astronauts, as they are streamed live on the big screen at the Northbridge Piazza,” said Ms Cassarchis.

Western Australian Museum Chief Executive, Alec Coles said people should come down to the Piazza on Monday 20 February from 5pm to see this unique public event; the first time school age children in Perth will have the opportunity to talk publicly with the International Space Station.

“The ‘City of Light’ anniversary event will be quite unique: there will be activities, displays and presentations highlighting Western Australia’s involvement in space exploration and the development of telecommunications in WA over the last 50 years and of course, the highlight will be seeing our competition winners talk live to the International Space Station,” said Mr Coles.

City of Perth Lord Mayor, Lisa Scaffidi said the City was pleased to be involved in hosting a free public event that engaged the community and recalled a very significant event in Perth’s history.

“Being able to communicate directly with the space station from the lawns of the Piazza shows how far technology has developed over the past 50 years,” Ms Scaffidi said.

“Perth attracted international attention in 1962 and since then we have developed into an international destination connected to the world.”

School aged children are encouraged to enter the competition by submitting their questions to the astronauts on the International Space Station at the Western Australian Museum website  

Entries close on 29 January 2012 and winners will be contacted by the State Records Office by 2 February 2012.