(ABC Factual: Gemma Deavin) ABC Western Plains
By Gemma Deavin and Jennifer King
April 06, 2017 15:50:25
Greg Quicke is now also known as Space Gandalf after his appearance on ABC TV’s Stargazing Live this week.
Author of Earth Turning,” the bio reads.So, waves, the universe, motorbikes and writing — and as it turns out, he is also a former marine biology student from Townsville, a Broome pearl diver, and a self-taught mechanic. Delivering intensely practical astronomy to humanity since 1995. It was a gradual process and certainly not a deliberate thing I set out to do.”Tuned in to relationship between Earth and planetsMr Quicke said after a while, he was able to look at the moon and know where the tide was going to be that day. External Link:
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“I actually wanted to go diving [and] there was no diving in the course, so I went to Broome and went pearl diving.”He admitted he had been a bit “lost” and had no clue where he was going, ending up in Broome after his motorbike broke down and he hitched a lift.”Two weeks after my first [pearl diving] pay, I bought a Honda [motorbike] in the pub for $200 and I was back on the road,” he said.Mr Quicke said pearl diving was what activated his interest in the stars and planets, because the work revolved around the tides.”We get a 10-metre [tide] change in a six-hour period in Broome and we would dive the smaller tides,” he explained.”Very quickly, I’m working in rhythm with the moon cycle, because the moon governs the tides.”It took me a little while. (ABC Factual: Gemma Deavin)
And how does he feel about his hashtag?Mr Quicke said he had “copped all sorts of names” over the years, including Merlin, Ariel’s dad, Neptune, and the wizard under the tree.”If it makes people laugh and it makes people think, I don’t mind at all,” he said.When asked how he would explain what he does, Mr Quicke’s explanation is brief.”I don’t have any choice at all in the matter. (ABC Factual: Gemma Deavin)
Living life through zoom lensMr Quicke admitted he was initially drawn to marine biology after watching a TV program featuring the Great Barrier Reef.”I dropped out after a year because I got bored looking in microscopes,” he said. Photo:
Greg Quicke says he got sick of microscopes pretty quickly when studying marine biology. (ABC Factual: Gemma Deavin)
A swag under the starsEventually the inland beckoned and Mr Quicke taught himself how to be a mechanic, finding work on Northern Territory and Kimberley cattle stations.He was a mechanic across the Top End for about 15 years, during which time he spent many nights in his swag, in the bush, under the stars.”Lying back under the stars every night, I didn’t set out to learn the stars but they were there, and so was I, and gradually we got to know each other,” he said. I’m just doing what I’m told,” he said.”If you can get on your own way in this life and do what you’re supposed to be doing, everything is there for you.” Stargazing Live is captivating audiences around Australia this week as Professor Brian Cox and Julia Zemiro deliver the galaxy into our living rooms.But one of the brightest stars of the show has been self-taught astronomy enthusiast Greg Quicke, now also known as #SpaceGandalf.The nickname was quickly shooting across social media networks following his first appearance on the program on Tuesday night.His Twitter bio only adds to the curiosity about this bearded man with twinkling eyes, a big hat and an extensive and enthusiastic knowledge of the constellations.”Surf, stars and handlebars. He said that “tuned him in” to the relationship between the earth, the sun and the moon to the point where he said he could “feel” it.”I could feel the journey of the earth going around the sun and I can feel the moon swinging around the earth,” he said.”It’s not something I feel every day walking around the streets, but when I stop and tune into it, it’s something I have a very real sense of.”
Greg Quicke appeared with Kumi Taguchi (L) during Stargazing Live at Siding Spring Observatory. (ABC Factual: Gemma Deavin)
“Still my favourite thing to do is to lie back under the stars and forget that I know anything about them.”That’s when I really start learning all over again.”These days, Mr Quicke shares his stellar passion with tourists, taking them on astro-tours around Broome, where there are clear skies 300 days of the year.”I share some things with people that have caused me to wonder and caused me a lot of amazement, and when I share some of those things with people, it seems to be the same for them,” he told ABC Radio Perth.”One day I started talking about stars and I thought I was just saying stuff that everyone knew and basically, they told me to keep talking and I guess that’s what I’m doing, 22 years later.”
Siding Spring Observatory at Coonabarabran, in western NSW, was the site of filming of the ABC’s Stargazing Live. Photo:
The ABC’s Kumi Taguchi was almost “blown away” at Siding Spring Observatory, with Greg Quicke.