Observatory and domes [CASE CLOSED]

Forums A.G.E.N.T. Observatory and domes [CASE CLOSED]

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    Amongst the SAAO Archive collection are many photographs, postcards and illustrations of overseas observatories. Can you identify these?

    None of them are in South Africa, btw.

    Click the thumbnails below to download the originals (28 – 32 Meg each)



    The first three look like they are of the same place. The last one, P6736, seems to be elsewhere?

    Jonathan Balladon

    Looking at the car and the roadsign..I guessed Australia. In the 60’s.
    Google says Siding Spring Observatory opened 5th April 1965.

    Jonathan Balladon

    Australian National University Archives have an article and the same picture.


    Thanks, Jonathan! That was quick!
    So the first three images show Siding Spring Observatory, Australia, 1960s.

    P6734 is shown on the Australian National University Archives Facebook page
    captioned: “Siding Spring Observatory’s 40-inch Telescope, circa 1960s (ANUA16-190).”

    Jonathan identified the vehicle in P6734 as a Ford Falcon – you can just about make out some of the letters on the back. Here’s a similar vehicle (1963 Ford XL Falcon Delux station wagon) from Wikipedia:

    I wonder what’s in the other dome?


    Re: P6736

    Via Whatsapp, Raoul Coetzee suggested it is at Mt Stromlo and shows the 50-inch telescope.

    I contacted MSO and Brad E. Tucker (MSO, ANU) confirmed that it is, indeed, the 50-inch Melbourne Telescope at Mt Stromlo, probably from the early 1960s.

    Matilda Vaughan (Engineering Curator at Museums Victoria) also confirmed the identity, writing “Yes that is definitely the 50-inch telescope dome at Mount Stromlo, circa 1960.”

    This telescope has an absolutely fascinating history, more so if you’re interested in deep-sky observing. It began life as the Great Melbourne Reflector in the 1860s “devoted chiefly to a revision of the Southern Nebulae observed by Sir John Herschel at the Cape of Good Hope in the years 1834 to 1838.”

    You can read more about this instrument and its early work in this 1885 publication: Observations of the Southern Nebulae made with the Great Melbourne Telescope from 1869 to 1885. Part I. Melbourne.

    The disastrous fires at Mt Stromlo in 2003 gutted the telescope. However, it is now being restored by staff and volunteers! You can follow their adventure via Twitter at @GMT21stC and on their website.


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