Telescopes, heritage buildings and public access to be restored

The new Mount Stromlo will offer three telescopes for public access, restored heritage buildings and improved research facilities.

The Oddie Telescope in 1911 The Oddie Telescope soon after Bushfires

Mount Stromlo Observatory is the oldest continuously operating research observatory in Australia, lost five telescopes, heritage buildings, workshops and houses in bushfires on January 18 this year.

Redevelopment plans strongly emphasise the heritage of the site, including plans to restore the oldest Federal Government building in the ACT, the heritage-listed 1911 23cm Oddie telescope, and the 1924 heritage-listed Old Administration Building, designed by John Smith Murdoch, the architect of Old Parliament House.

The Oddie Telescope will be restored for public use and the Old Administration Building will house offices and an astronomy library.

The 1868 15cm Farnham telescope, which stood on the roof of the Old Administration Building, miraculously escaped the fires, and will be rehoused in a new dome, to make it available for regular public viewing.

The 190cm telescope, built in 1953, was too badly damaged for scientific restoration and will be replaced with the Phoenix Telescope - a telescope of the same size, but using modern technologies to make it vastly more powerful.

The 1868 130cm Great Melbourne Telescope, the largest in the world when it was first built, was also damaged too badly for restoration. The Skymapper Telescope, located at Siding Spring Observatory but controllable from Mt Stromlo, will carry its work forward.