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27th of October 2016
ATCA surrounded by purple fields
by Phil Edwards (CASS)
Unseasonably heavy recent rains at the Compact Array have resulted in a field of purple around the telescopes. This is evident in the foreground of the picture above, which in the background has four antennas of the ATCA in its H168 array configuration. The two towers visible behind the array formerly housed optical solar telescopes. The purple flower is Echium plantagineum, a winter annual herb commonly known as Paterson's curse, or Salvation Jane. Native to Mediterranean Europe and northern Africa, it was introduced to Australia in the 1850s and is now classified as a major weed. It is poisonous to grazing livestock and reduces pasture productivity hence the name Paterson's curse. Yet despite these problems, in the drier regions of southern Australia some farmers consider it the salvation of grazing because it is often the only source of feed. The normally relatively dry Narrabri winter is good for observers using the 15mm, 7mm and 3mm bands. The recent rains did have some impact on some of these programs, though fortunately none was completely wiped out by the weather.

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