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40,000 people stare at the moon, set stargazing world record

Hey, look, it's a moon. Australians stargazers sure know how to coordinate.

Moon watchers at ANU turn their telescopes to space.

Lannon Harley, ANU

Australia likes to go big, whether it's with giant spiders, dinosaur footprints or stargazing records. The Australian National University (ANU) managed to wrangle over 40,000 people to all look at the moon at the same time on Wednesday night. 

The group stargazing experience happened across hundreds of locations around the country. ANU alone counted over 3,500 people at its telescope and binocular-pointing party. Viewers had to spend 10 minutes gazing at the moon during the record attempt.

A show called Stargazing Live covered the event through the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. "The effort was so great that Guinness World Records officials were unable to confirm the final numbers on the ABC's final Stargazing Live episode tonight," ANU says. It's now waiting for an official record confirmation from Guinness.

The previous Guinness record for "most people stargazing - multiple venues" was set in 2015 and involved nearly 8,000 participants at 37 locations across Australia. It took place with the backing of the Mt. Stromlo Observatory and ANU.

The stargazing extravaganza is part of ANU's successful efforts to reach out to citizen scientists. The public has also been helping ANU astronomers look through space images to locate supernovae.

This new record will be hard to touch, but it should stand as inspiration for people around the world to take a minute (or 10) to look up at the moon at night.