• The Great Melbourne Telescope

    The goal of the Great Melbourne Telescope project is to restore the telescope to working order so that it may be used for educational and public viewing.

    The Great Melbourne Telescope was one of the largest telescopes in the world in the 19th century, and the largest in the southern hemisphere.

    Erected at Melbourne Observatory in 1869, this ‘giant of science’ was an icon of Melbourne during the boom decades following the 1850s goldrush. The telescope symbolised to Melburnians that their city was a city of learning and civilization, not just of economic wealth.

    Relocated to Canberra in 1944, it was heavily modified for modern astronomy. The 2003 Canberra bushfires destroyed the modern equipment, but left the original parts relatively unscathed.

    The original parts of the telescope have now been returned to Melbourne. About 90 percent of the original telescope has survived.

    The project to restore the telescope and reinstate it in its original building at the former Melbourne Observatory site is being coordinated by three project partners: Astronomical Society of Victoria, Museum Victoria and The Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne.

    The project partners are now testing the technical and financial aspects of the project. This includes assessing the best approaches to restoration of the telescope, assessment of the original building, and development of a business and operational plan for the telescope.

Latest News

The 150th Anniversary of Melbourne Observatory

Melbourne Observatory had a long wait for an “official” opening – 150 years, to be precise. After a decade of astronomical operations, the Williamstown Observatory was closed and a transfer of equipment took place in 1863 to grand new facilities on land excised from the Government House reserve, adjacent to the Royal Botanic Gardens.

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Engineering Work Begins

Having achieved an adequate degree of documentation of the GMT parts, we have developed more than 40 written proposals for engineering work on some of the parts, and on a frame to hold the entire telescope.

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