Aussie observatory goes it alone

Anglo-Australian Telescope

Anglo-Australian Observatory will become the Australian Astronomical Observatory on July 1. It's 3.9-metre telescope, built in the 1970s, is still one of the world's most productive.

  • Anglo-Australian to become solely Australian
  • Telescope is 35 years old, but one of the world’s best
  • Government putting in extra $30 million in next 5 years

The Australian Astronomical Observatory will continue its world-class astronomical research and training role when it becomes a solely Australian-operated facility on July 1.

At an historic ceremony marking the end of the joint Australian-British operation of the observatory, Parliamentary Secretary for Innovation and Industry, Richard Marles, said the telescope would continue to operate as one of the world’s most productive astronomical observatories.

“The 35-year collaboration with Britain is a great example of how international co-operation between governments, institutions and researchers can achieve ground-breaking results,” Mr Marles said.

“The telescope at Siding Spring, near Coonabarabran in NSW, was the first modern era optical telescope in the Southern Hemisphere and allowed astronomers to explore, in better detail, some of the most exciting regions of the sky, including the Milky Way Galaxy and the Magellanic Clouds.

Dome of the AAT

The dome of the 3.9m AAT at Siding Spring in NSW.

“Today it remains the world’s most productive four-metre telescope and has made major contributions to the way we think about the universe, including helping to discover that it is expanding at an accelerating rate.

“Work done here will help provide the skills, scientific and technical capabilities for the next generation of telescopes, like the major international collaboration on the Giant Magellan Telescope.”

What has been known as the Anglo-Australian Observatory will become the Australian Astronomical Observatory (AAO) as the Australian Government takes full responsibility for its operations from July 1.

“The Australian Government will spend an additional $27 million over five years to support ongoing operations of the AAO from its Super Science – Space and Astronomy initiative and $2.3 million from the Education Investment Fund for upgraded instrumentation,” Mr Marles said.

“This investment will ensure the AAO remains a global leader in astronomy and continue to provide years of service to the international astronomy community.”

Adapted from information issued by the office of the Parliamentary Secretary for Innovation and Industry. Photos by Shaun Amy and Barnaby Norris, AAO.

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