The Great Melbourne Telescope

Melbourne telescope

Public history of science lecture by Dr Richard Gillespie

Event details

Richard Gillespie is Head of the Humanities Department at Museum Victoria in Melbourne, Australia.

A joint project of the Royal Society and the British Association, the Great Melbourne Telescope was the result of both technical and organisational innovation in the design and manufacture of a large telescope. At the completion of its construction by Dublin engineer Thomas Grubb, it was hailed as a masterpiece of engineering. Erected at Melbourne Observatory in 1869, the telescope was the second largest telescope in the world, designed to explore the nature of the nebulae in the southern hemisphere skies. Using a hybrid instrument with speculum metal mirror, innovative mounting, camera and spectroscope, its observers struggled to get definitive results.

When Melbourne Observatory closed in 1945, the telescope was transferred to Mount Stromlo Observatory in Canberra. Incredibly, it had a second and a third life, as it was rebuilt for new astronomical projects, including detecting evidence of dark matter in our galaxy. A further refurbishment of the telescope was planned, when the firestorm that hit Canberra in January 2003 destroyed the telescopes at Mount Stromlo.

Now the Great Melbourne Telescope is about to embark on a new chapter in its history, with plans to restore and refurbish it for public and educational use, back home in its original building at Melbourne Observatory.

Attending this event

This event is free to attend and open to all. No tickets are required. Doors open at 12.30pm and seats will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis.

We have a limited number of spaces for wheelchair users and ten bookable seats for people with impaired mobility who are unable to queue. To book in advance, please contact the events team. Further information about accessibility is available.

Recorded audio will be available on this page a few days after the event.

Enquiries: Contact the events team

The Great Melbourne Telescope 6-9 Carlton House Terrace London SW1Y 5AG UK

Events coming up

  • The interaction of fire and mankind 14 September 2015 at The Royal Society, London Scientific discussion meeting organised by Professor Andrew Scott, Professor William Chaloner FRS, Professor Claire Belcher and Dr Chris Roos
  • The interaction of fire and mankind - further discussion 16 September 2015 at The Royal Society at Chicheley Hall, home of the Kavli Royal Society International Centre, Buckinghamshire Scientific discussion meeting organised by Professor Andrew Scott, Professor William Chaloner FRS, Dr Claire Belcher and Professor Chris Roos
  • Open House Weekend 2015 19 September 2015 at The Royal Society, London The Royal Society's building will be open to the public on Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 September 2015.

For more events please see the events diary.

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