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
- Museums Victoria
- Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria
- Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology
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.