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Photo exhibition: Stories from Siding Spring Observatory

24 April 2013

A selection of the 26 photographs in the exhibition. Detailed listing


star trails above the AAT RFS photo of thick smoke behind the dome of the Anglo-Australian Telescope Instrument Simon Ellis working beside the Anglo-Australian Telescope
Star-trails over the Anglo-Australian Telescope: a still from one of four time-lapse movies in the exhibition. Photo: Angel Lopez-Sanchez

Smoke clouds towering above the dome of the Anglo-Australian Telescope on 13 January 2013.
Photo: Rural Fire Service pilot Alex King.

Instrument scientist Simon Ellis working beside the Anglo-Australian Telescope during testing of a new instrument. Photo: Keith Shortridge

Astronomers at work in the AAT control room
Comet Lovejoy in the dawn sky behind the Anglo-Australian Telescope
New leaves on trees burnt by the bushfire at Siding Spring Observatory
Astronomers and engineers in the control room of the Anglo-Australian Telescope. Photo: Keith Shortridge
Comet Lovejoy above the dome of the Anglo-Australian Telescope on Christmas morning 2011.
Photo: Steven Lee

New leaves appearing on trees burnt by January's fire. Photo: Fred Watson


Twisted metal and scorched bricks: that's what viewers saw on 14 January this year.

Two buildings were lost at Siding Spring Observatory in northwest NSW when bushfire swept through.

But the telescopes themselves were unscathed, and are now back in business.

From 18 April to 13 August Sydney Observatory (part of Sydney's Powerhouse Museum) is hosting an exhibition, Stories from Siding Spring Observatory, which illustrates life and work at Australia's most important site for optical astronomy.

Two telescopes on the site — the 4-m Anglo-Australian Telescope and the UK Schmidt telescope — are operated by the Australian Astronomical Observatory (AAO), Australia's national body for doing optical astronomy.

After the fire, AAO staff decided to put together a collection of photos that tell their stories about Siding Spring Observatory, a place that has been a second home to many of them. This new exhibition is the result.

The photos include those of astronomers at work; the starry skies above the telescopes; the approach of the fire on 13 January; and the return of life after the fire, as trees around the observatory burst with new growth.

Siding Spring Observatory lies about 400 km northwest of Sydney, 25 km west of the town of Coonabarabran. It is owned and operated by the Australian National University.

The Australian Astronomical Observatory, a division of the Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education, operates the Anglo-Australian and UK Schmidt telescopes on behalf of the Australian astronomical community. The AAO exists to provide world-class optical and infrared observing facilities that enable Australian astronomers to do excellent science. It is a world leader in astronomical research and in the development of innovative telescope instrumentation, and also plays an active role in the formulation of long-term plans for Australian astronomy.

Links

Sydney Observatory - exhibition information

More information

Associate Professor Andrew Hopkins, Head of AAT Science, Australian Astronomical Observatory
M: +61 432 855 049
T: +61 2 9372 4849
ahopkins@aao.gov.au

Helen Sim (media assistance)
T: +61 2 9372 4251
M: +61 419 635 905
hsim@aao.gov.au