Mount Stromlo and Siding Spring Observatories
Mount Stromlo and Siding Spring Observatories is a telescope facility operated by the Australian National Observatories and
located on Mount Stromlo, near Canberra, at an altitude of 770 meters, and
on Siding Spring Mountain, New South Wales, at an altitude of 1,150 meters.
The main instruments are a 1.9-meter reflecting telescope (Mount Stromlo)
and a 2.3-meter reflecting telescope (Siding Spring). The Siding Spring
site is shared by the Anglo-Australian Observatory.
| Mount Stromlo Observatory before
Sadly, the historic Mount Stromlo Observatory was destroyed by the fierce
bush fires around Canberra on Jan. 19, 2003. The photos show the remains
of the main
dome from the outside (below right) and one of the smaller domes from the
inside (below left). The flames destroyed six telescopes, a major equipment
workshop, eight staff homes, and the main dome, causing more than $20 million
in damage. None of the 80 staff-members or their families were harmed. The
historic 1.3 meter-diameter Great Melbourne Telescope, built in 1868 and
upgraded a decade ago to become one of the most sophisticated in Australia,
was lost, as was the larger, 1.9-meter instrument. Also destroyed was a
$5 million imaging spectrograph in Mount Stromlo's workshop that
| Inside one of the burned out domes
was almost ready to be installed in Hawaii's Gemini Observatory. The main
office buildings, containing computer databases, escaped the blaze. The
loss of Stromlo temporarily cut Australia's astronomy research by about
one third and brought to a halt a digital survey of the southern hemisphere
sky that had only just begun.
| Exterior view of the main dome after
Mount Stromlo Observatory has begun to reemerge from the ashes. A new facility,
called the Advanced Instrumentation and Technology Centre (AITC), was opened
in 2006. This replaces the engineering workshops lost in the fire and is
expected to supply components and instruments for what will be the world's
most powerful telescope, the Giant Magellan Telescope.
|The new Advanced Instrumentation
and Technology Center at Mt. Stromlo Observatory
Other plans call for the restoration of the 23-centimeter "Oddie" telescope, an
important part of Mount Stromlo's heritage and the reconstruction and restoration
of the Administration Building, which was on Australia's list of Heritage
sites. New staff offices and housing will also be built, and public outreach
will also be expanded to include a new Virtual Reality theatre.