Emjay goes looking at stars…


or she might if the weather was better!        We are now at Siding Spring Observatory outside Coonabarabran (NSW).    The observatory is  1,165 metres (3,822 ft) above sea level on Mount Woorat which is also more commonly known as Siding Spring Mountain.    There are 12 telescopes on the site and the mountain overlooks the Warrumbungle National Park.


The mountain is in deep cloud tonight and the 3.9 metre Anglo-Australian Telescope, which the manservant uses when he is in his guise as astro-dweeb, will not be opening.  The telescope was commissioned in 1974  and was one of the last large telescopes built with an equatorial mount while it was one of the first telescopes to be fully computer-controlled.  The light was really fading when I took this shot – but you get an idea of the size of the telescope compared to the house – which is a good sized house not a little row house!

This is the SkyMapper 1.3 metre telescope.   Its mission is to robotically create the first comprehensive digital survey of the entire southern sky:


And this was the SkyMapper in the distance at sunset:

Also on the mountain is the ANU/Mt. Stromlo 2.3 metre telescope.  This is Mt. Stromlo’s main research telescope even though it is not actually on Mt. Stromlo! 

Then we have the UK Schmidt 1.24 m telescope which is operated by the AAO.   Schmidt telescopes have a very large field of view allowing them to see much more of the sky in a single shot than a normal telescope.  Popular Australian astronomer, Fred Watson,  is one of the observers using this telescope for the 6DF program

And, the Faulkes South 2 metre Telescope.  This is owned by the Google billionaire and operated by his Las Cumbres Observatory in Santa Barbara.  The Faulkes Project provides access to the Faulkes Telescopes (North in Hawaii and South here on Siding Spring) for schools and groups involved in education.  This opens from the centre outwards:

Also on the mountain are hundreds of kangaroos!   See the joey leaning out of the pouch for dinner:  (you might have to click the photo to make it bigger if your eyes are like mine!)They are curious creatures:


28 responses

  1. I know you went up there to look at the stars, but I think the kangaroos would have been enough to get me out there.

    The manservant is working while you’re down there, I take it? Or is the observatory open to the public?

  2. Incredible, the telescope!! How wonderful that you have access to it. I know that must have been amazing to look through.

    I adore your pictures of the kangaroos! The baby is precious. How nice that you got to see them up close!

  3. What an educational story and series of pictures. Many years ago I drove through that beautiful country at Coonabarabran but I thought that there was only one observatory. How interesting…..different telescopes for different purposes.

  4. Emjay, I’m so happy I spent a few minutes with this silly Readomattic thingie. (I miss the neighborhood updates from Vox.) What a tour of the observatory you’ve given us! I especially like the house in the foreground of the Anglo-Australian Telescope dome photo — wow! The observatory site reminds me a bit of Kitt Peak in Arizona…. until you get to the ‘roos! Thanks for the pictures and narrative. — JG

  5. That Anglo/Australian telescope is certainly BIG! So glad I found you. I was Rocky Mountain High on Vox but haven’t posted in ages there. After my February/March trip to Vietnam and the Philippines I was planning to post but it has been six months of hospital, dioctors, home health nurses.

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