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:
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: