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Philatelic Snippets I.S.S. at Last! No one interested in space flight can have missed it, delayed, behind schedule, but on 20.11.98 we had the start of the International Space Station, the most complex space project yet, it wont be fully operational until 2004, at the earliest. The venture is certain to bring about an abundance of philatelic novelties in the coming years. The flight control centre in Houston Texas brought out a special postmark for the new station in May 1998 which incorporated in the design the smaller and very first American space station Skylab. The Arbeitsgruppe Philatelie in the N.E. German City of Neubrandenburg issued on 31.10.98 their own illustrated postal cover to celebrate Space Flight Day. It has a 100pf imprinted stamp showing Elizabeth Scwarzhaupt and in addition to the left of the cover an artists impression of the new space station. The special postmark shows the Russian space station the ageing MIR, stilling circling Earth against all the odds! Only 200 copies of this attractive item have been released, but you might still get one by writing to former ASSS member Ralf Schulz, whose address is on the shown cover. The franking impression(in red in fact) comes also from Hoyerswerda in Germany. The postmark was issued on 20.11.98 the launch date of the Russian-built Zarya (Dawn) module, the first of Russia’s contributions to the ISS, to be followed by an American crew linking up in the unity module, a long six-porthole connecting passageway (see the following illustrative cachet): German Cosmos Stamps On 14th October 99 the German Post Office put on sale a series of five thematic stamps celebrating the Cosmos. The design consultant is the Director of the Observatory and planetarium at Bochum. Designs included a comet crashing into Jupiter, a survey of Mars, an exploding star in Roentgen light, radio waves in a group of stars which to eye appear to form the shape of a swan. The issued also included the first German hologrammatic design, a successor to the 3D stamp Visiting the Anglo-Australian Observatory Siding Springs, New South Wales In April 2000, my wife and I visited the Observatory overlooking the Warrumbungle National Park, Northwest New South Wales, explains our Features Editor John Berry. My son drove us to Coonabarabran, a small town nearest the site and at a crossroads a sign indicated that the Observatory was twenty minutes drive westward. The road to the Observatory was tree-lined with green melds and prominent along the route were numerous "plugs" where the cores of volcanoes had solidified many millions of years ago and it was no surprise to find that the Observatory was sited on such a useful physical feature. A road sign indicated a track to the right and it was a steep drive to reach the site, but strangely, although eight telescopes were on site we only found one! Fortunately this was the main telescope with a four metre aperture mirror. A shop is close to car park (of which our Honda Patrol had the monopoly) and it is well-stocked with postcards and other space related items and coffee and cakes are served. A wooden-stepped approach takes the visitor to the base of the four-storey high telescope where a lift is available to the top of the building. Obviously the telescope is not used during the day and Diane and I were merely able to view the complex mechanism of the telescope through a wide observation window. Staff were not available to explain the use of tile telescope although numerous photographs of galaxies were framed on the wall at this level. We returned to the car park and thence down the winding track to the road. At this time were were the only visitors.  I felt there was a complete lack of personal contact at this observatory, the only person present being an affable young woman who served in the shop but she had absolutely no knowledge of the telescopes. I am sure that a knowledgeable duty assistant would have been advantageous to answer the many questions we formed but with an apparent lack of visitors it probably would not have been a financial proposition - except of course for an enthusiast. Sad that such an important site should have no indicators relating to the sites of The other SEVEN telescopes. I mean where were they?
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