Wildflower Season Blooms at the Gravity Discovery Centre

It’s that time of the year again – wildflower season at the Gravity Discovery Centre is bursting with colour and life. If you’re into nature, Insta-worthy shots, or just curious about what’s blooming, we’ve got you covered.

Highlighting a few blossoms of the season:

1. Caladenia longicauda – The White Spider Orchid is notable for its long, slender sepals and petals, which give it a distinct spider-like appearance.
2. Pterostylis vittata – The Banded Greenhood is an evergreen terrestrial orchid, unique because it does not produce nectar but instead attracts pollinators through its appearance.
3. Caladenia flava – Known as the Cowslip Orchid, this species is recognized by its bright yellow flowers with red markings. It’s a favourite among native bees for pollination.
4. Pterostylis dilatata – The Green Snail Orchid is fascinating in its growth pattern, often emerging after bushfires, signifying nature’s resilience.
5. Pterostylis arbuscula – The Dwarf Greenhood gets its name from its small stature, often growing to a height of only about 10 cm.
6. Kennedia prostrata – The Running Postman is a sprawling ground cover plant. Its name is derived from its vibrant red flowers resembling the red coats of early British postmen.
7. Philotheca spicata – The Waxflower has oil glands in its petals which make them glisten, giving it its wax-like appearance.
8. Lysinema ciliatum – The Curry Flower stands out due to its fringed petal edges, providing a soft, feathery appearance.

In the coming days, the Elythranthera brunonis or the Purple Enamel Orchid is expected to bloom, definitely a fan favourite here at the centre.
Oh, and did we mention the family of Drosera? We’ve identified 7 unique species here. Commonly called sundews, these intriguing plants are not just beautiful but also carnivorous!

Why is this important? 🌍

Western Australia is a biodiversity hotspot. This means it’s home to a variety of plants and animals that you won’t find anywhere else in the world. Biodiversity (a combination of the words ‘biological’ and ‘diversity’) refers to the variety of different species inside an ecosystem. The array of wildflowers is not only a visual feast but a reminder of our responsibility to safeguard the balance of our ecosystems. If you’re planning a visit and have questions or are keen to spot these floral gems, do approach one of our astronomers Mitch. Whilst at night his head is in the stars, by day he
looks down at the ground beneath us to take in all of nature’s wonders no matter how big or small.

Pull out your cameras, bring your buddies and immerse yourself in nature’s playlist.

Asteroids: Exploring the Intriguing Cosmic Nomads

In the vast expanse of our solar system, an array of celestial objects dance around the sun, each with its own unique story to tell. Among these captivating entities, asteroids stand out as fascinating and enigmatic cosmic wanderers. In this article, we delve into the world of asteroids, uncovering their origins, characteristics, and the pivotal role they play in shaping the cosmic landscape.

Asteroids are rocky, airless remnants that populate the space between planets in our solar system. Often referred to as “minor planets” or “planetesimals,” these fragments hold vital clues about the early days of our solar system and the processes that led to its formation.

Asteroids are thought to be leftover building blocks from the formation of planets, a remnant of the solar system’s birth approximately 4.6 billion years ago. They vary in size from small pebbles to massive bodies, with some even exceeding hundreds of kilometres in diameter.

Most asteroids are composed primarily of rock and metal, resembling miniature planets that never coalesced into a larger whole. Some, known as carbonaceous asteroids, contain higher levels of carbon and water-bearing compounds, making them intriguing targets for scientists searching for the building blocks of life.

Asteroids are categorized into different classes based on their characteristics and composition. The three primary categories are:

  1. C-Type (Carbonaceous) Asteroids: These are the most common type and are rich in carbon compounds. They are often found in the outer asteroid belt and are believed to be among the oldest objects in the solar system.
  2. S-Type (Silicaceous) Asteroids: These asteroids are composed mainly of silicate materials and metals. They are typically found in the inner asteroid belt and represent a more diverse group in terms of composition.
  3. M-Type (Metallic) Asteroids: These asteroids are rich in metals, such as nickel and iron. They are often found in the middle of the asteroid belt and may be fragments of larger bodies that underwent significant differentiation.

Asteroids follow elliptical orbits around the sun, and their trajectories can bring them in close proximity to Earth. While the vast majority pose no immediate threat, the potential impact of a sizable asteroid remains a topic of concern for scientists and astronomers.

Notable incidents, such as the Tunguska event in 1908 and the Chelyabinsk meteor in 2013, underscore the importance of tracking and understanding the movements of asteroids that cross Earth’s orbit. Organizations like NASA actively monitor near-Earth objects and work on strategies to mitigate potential impacts.

Studying asteroids provides valuable insights into the formation and evolution of the solar system. By analysing their composition, scientists can uncover clues about the conditions that prevailed during the early stages of our cosmic neighbourhood’s development. Asteroids may also hold answers to questions about the origins of water and the building blocks of life on Earth.

Asteroids are more than just celestial oddities; they are time capsules that offer a glimpse into the past and the dynamic processes that have shaped our solar system. As we continue to explore and learn about these ancient relics, we unlock a deeper understanding of our cosmic origins and the intricate interplay that has shaped the universe we call home.

Image credit: NASA