Photo exhibition: Stories from Siding Spring Observatory



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


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 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.


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

Helen Sim (media assistance)
T: +61 2 9372 4251
M: +61 419 635 905