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Australia bushfires threaten space observatory

As over 150 wildfires sweep across the Australian state of New South Wales, the largest of them presses terrifyingly close to the country's biggest optical space observatory. The fire, with a perimeter of 60 miles, has already destroyed 28 homes and around 100,000 acres of bushland. It forced the evacuation of the Siding Springs Observatory and damaged five buildings, but spared several giant telescopes used to search for new stars and planets. Siding Springs is home to the 13-foot Anglo-Australian Telescope, which has surveyed 200,000 galaxies and was instrumental in confirming the existence of dark energy. The observatory has also helped find more than 30 new planets over the past decade. Only one person, an elderly firefighter working alone in Tasmania, has died in the fires.

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