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Australia is currently experiencing record temperatures and widespread bush fires. Last night Australia’s largest astronomy observatory, the Siding Spring Observatory owned by the Australian National University (ANU), was been overrun by bush fires. All staff were safely evacuated.

(See astropixie blog for source and details.)

Astroblog has further links to Australian news articles and a running commentary with images from astropixie with a follow-up post today, which seems to suggest most of the buildings have survived. The commentary from the community is informative, too. (My experience from the earthquakes leave me wary that the apparently good state of the buildings may be a superficial impression from a distance – ?)

The images include stills from webcams on the site and a temperature record with a very distinct peak! Astropixie’s running commentary asks that people not access the webcams themselves, so that the fire services has good access to them.

I presume this also means that the Warrumbungle National Park, a heritage listed national park that the observatory is situated within is badly affected.

A brief New Zealand-based account can be found on Stuff.

[Updated to add image from astropixie blog.]