Studying the stars, planets, and other celestial bodies would be a difficult task when there is a significant amount of light pollution being emitted. Thankfully, Australia has a controlled amount which allows scientists and researchers to study space with as much freedom and clarity.
Various observatories give one an opportunity to look at the night sky from the perspective of the southern hemisphere, and it would be as much of a learning experience as it is an enjoyable and inspiring activity to participate in. Here are some of the best observatories in Australia.
Located several kilometres away from the busy urban streets of Sydney, the AAO facilitates the use of the Anglo-Australian and UK Schmidt telescopes. Having once collaborated with the UK, the AAO now fully operates under the Australian government. It works in partnership with universities and agencies like Macquarie University and the Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial-Research Organization to allow students to experience the professional environment in the field of astronomy. Apart from surveying space objects, they also work in crafting instruments that would complement telescopes and make them work more efficiently and accurately.
The Siding-Spring Observatory found in Coonabarabran, New South Wales houses one of the telescopes that the AAO operates, the Anglo-Australian Telescope. Situated at about an altitude of 1,100 meters on the observatory, this telescope has the capacity for both optical and infrared imaging. Researchers have made several discoveries of new planets, stars, and exoplanets through the telescope, even observing some of the most distant objects from Earth.
If you have read one Unitutor’s best essay regarding the oldest observatories founded in Australia written by Ragbir Bhathal, you will know that it has gone through some struggles in the past which have led to its status now as a functioning museum instead of a full research facility. Visitors do have the opportunity to use the equipment to view the stars and planets in the evenings but the facility has been geared toward educational purposes rather than research
The most ideal place for an observatory is somewhere that would have the least amount of disturbance and the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory can be found literally in the middle of nowhere, in Western Australia. It is cradled in a designated zone of radio silence, so all you will see are rows of antennae that pick up signals from space. The facility uses two main equipment: the Murchison Widefield Array and the Australian Square Kilometer Array Pathfinder. The CSIRO currently manages the operations of Murchison.
Another observatory in possession of a radio telescope. As one enters their grounds, the immediately noticeable feature in a display at the facility is the large radio telescope, given the moniker “The Dish”, because it is like a big satellite dish probing the reaches of space for signs of new celestial objects. It has become well-known for being one of the instruments used to transmit images from the Apollo 11 mission and has been dubbed “the most successful scientific instrument ever built in Australia”.
Just outside Hobart in Tasmania, it allows observers to look at a sight to behold, the Magellanic Clouds. However, due to light pollution from nearby suburbs, the observatory has been closed down until the visibility may be restored. Its most commonly used instrument is a 16” telescope used when visitors would like to take a look into space when taking photos, and for official use of Tasmania’s Astronomical Society.
Lastly, Mount Pleasant Observatory is one of the three radio-astronomy observatories, along with Murchison and Parkes, located in Cambridge. They possess three radio antennas, two of which are active. One may also find the Grote Reber Museum where they show the role Tasmania plays in radiophysics. They are closely working with the University of Tasmania.