Astronomical Observatory

The Association for Astronomy (Department of Physics & Astronomy) invites you to observe the cosmos with your own eyes at the Macquarie University Astronomical Observatory. View planets, moons, binary stars, star clusters, nebulae and bright galaxies through our newly upgraded 12″ and 16″ professional in-dome telescopes. You will be guided by our trained astronomy staff, so please come prepared with any astronomy questions you may have!

We are very excited to announce that in addition to our weekly Friday night observing sessions, we will now also be running a fortnightly session on a Thursday night!

Observatory sessions in 2015 will be held every Friday night, and every second Thursday night, from March to November inclusive (excluding public holidays). These sessions will run from 8pm – 9:30pm during daylight saving, and 7pm – 8:30pm during the rest of the year. Daylight saving in New South Wales begins on the first Sunday in October and ends on the first Sunday in April.

Bookings are essential: all tickets for admission are sold online. We do not accept cash at the door! Please visit our Eventbrite page to purchase a ticket, or simply follow the links shown in the table below. Tickets are available for Adults ($11), Children/Concession ($8), Children Under 5 (free), and Families ($32). All prices are inclusive of GST.

Please note that attending the observatory is weather dependent, as we unfortunately cannot see the stars if it is cloudy and/or raining. A decision will be made by 5pm on the day as to whether the observing session will go ahead or be cancelled. In either case, an announcement will be posted to our Facebook page and Twitter feed, as well as in the table below. Full refunds are issued in cases of bad weather.

If your observing session has been cancelled due to poor weather, you will receive an email notification confirming that your 100% refund has been issued. Please allow up to five (5) business days for your refund to be transferred back into your account.

Unfortunately if we have less than 5 people booked in for any one session, the session will have to be cancelled and the tickets will be eligible for either a transfer to the following week’s session or a full refund, at the ticket holder’s discretion. In this case, ticket holders will be contacted via email by 5pm on the day of the event.

Date Session Time Tickets Observing Status
Friday 31st July 2015 7pm – 8:30pm ended Observing is ON!
Thursday 6th August 2015 7pm – 8:30pm book here Decision pending until 5pm on the day
Friday 7th August 2015 7pm – 8:30pm book here Decision pending until 5pm on the day
Friday 14th August 2015 7pm – 8:30pm book here Decision pending until 5pm on the day
Thursday 20th August 2015 7pm – 8:30pm book here Decision pending until 5pm on the day
Friday 28th August 2015 7pm – 8:30pm book here Decision pending until 5pm on the day
Thursday 3rd September 2015 7pm – 8:30pm book here Decision pending until 5pm on the day
Friday 4th September 2015 7pm – 8:30pm book here Decision pending until 5pm on the day
Friday 11th September 2015 7pm – 8:30pm book here Decision pending until 5pm on the day
Thursday 17th September 2015 7pm – 8:30pm book here Decision pending until 5pm on the day
Friday 18th September 2015 7pm – 8:30pm book here Decision pending until 5pm on the day
Friday 25th September 2015 7pm – 8:30pm book here Decision pending until 5pm on the day
Thursday 1st October 2015 7pm – 8:30pm book here Decision pending until 5pm on the day
Friday 2nd October 2015 7pm – 8:30pm book here Decision pending until 5pm on the day
Friday 9th October 2015 8pm – 9:30pm Coming Soon! Decision pending until 5pm on the day
Thursday 15th October 2015 8pm – 9:30pm Coming Soon! Decision pending until 5pm on the day
Friday 16th October 2015 8pm – 9:30pm Coming Soon! Decision pending until 5pm on the day
Friday 23rd October 2015 8pm – 9:30pm Coming Soon! Decision pending until 5pm on the day
Thursday 29th October 2015 8pm – 9:30pm Coming Soon! Decision pending until 5pm on the day
Friday 30th October 2015 8pm – 9:30pm Coming Soon! Decision pending until 5pm on the day
Friday 6th November 2015 8pm – 9:30pm Coming Soon! Decision pending until 5pm on the day
Thursday 12th November 2015 8pm – 9:30pm Coming Soon! Decision pending until 5pm on the day
Friday 13th November 2015 8pm – 9:30pm Coming Soon! Decision pending until 5pm on the day
Friday 20th November 2015 8pm – 9:30pm Coming Soon! Decision pending until 5pm on the day
Thursday 26th November 2015 8pm – 9:30pm Coming Soon! Decision pending until 5pm on the day
Friday 27th November 2015 8pm – 9:30pm Coming Soon! Decision pending until 5pm on the day
We will be back in March 2016!

We offer concession rates for privately booked sessions for School and Scout groups, as well as reduced/free admission for Scout leaders. We are able to tailor events so Scouts of all levels and ages can learn what they need for their astronomy and space badges. For more information, please visit our School and Scout page.

Location: Macquarie University Astronomical Observatory (map), Building W16A (end of N3 car park), off Gymnasium Rd, Macquarie Park NSW

The Astronomical Observatory is located on the northern grounds of Macquarie University, off Gymnasium Road, near the corner of Culloden and Waterloo Roads. Once on Gymnasium Road, take the first left onto the N3 car park. The observatory is at the northeast side of the lot – you can’t miss it. Parking is free for the first two hours with a ticket and free after 8pm without a ticket.

A “Pay and Display” ticket must be acquired from the machine in the N3 car park. Without entering any coins, press the OK button to obtain your two-hour free parking ticket to be displayed on your dash. Parking fees for daytime parking in excess of two hours are strictly enforced and heavy fines are levied for non-payment.

  • 16″ Meade Telescope – Effective focal length: 4064mm, Magnification with standard 26mm eyepiece: 150x. The telescope is used for public viewing on Friday nights and is used for group visits and research on other nights of the week.
  • 12″ Meade GPS Telescope – Effective focal length: 2670mm, Magnification with standard 26mm eyepiece: 100x. This telescope is also used on Friday nights, and for group visits.
  • 8″ Celestron C8 – Used on nights with very large groups.
  • 8″ Dobsonian – Used on nights with very large groups.
  • 3.2-metre radio telescope – May be operated remotely from the physics computing laboratory on campus.

Radio Astronomy

The 3.2-metre radio telescope at the observatory is a small dish, suitable for observing the Sun. With radio astronomy we do not see an image, as with an optical telescope, but can map the signal strength in different directions on the sky. The main purpose of the radio telescope is to educate students in the basics of radio astronomy.

Optical Astronomy

Several of our astronomy units have an observing component, where students visit the observatory at night to observe various astronomical objects. This program has also now been expanded to include use of our new CCD camera for astrophotography.

Undergraduate Units in Astronomy

MRes and PhD Research Projects

From time to time, post graduate projects are conducted at the observatory. Optical astronomical equipment used in conjunction with the telescopes includes CCD cameras for imaging and photometry, and a single-fibre spectroscope for obtaining object spectra. For more information please go to the Higher Degree Research Page for the Department of Physics and Astronomy.

The Macquarie University Observatory was originally constructed as a research facility but, since 1997, has also been accessible to the public through its Public Observing Program on Friday nights. The Observatory saw a record crowd on the night of 29th August 2003, with 667 visitors attending to observe the Opposition of Mars.

The Observatory was first opened in 1978 at a different location.  The Association for Astronomy was established in 1988 by Dr. Alan Vaughan to raise funds for further development of the observatory, which was moved to its present site in the early 1990s. The second dome, which houses the 16″ Meade telescope, was opened by Professor John Loxton on 3 May 1997. Construction of this dome was funded by Macquarie University and the Foundation for Astronomy (now the ‘Association for Astronomy’).

The Public Observing Program was operated from 1997 until the end of 2001 by a privately-operated business: Southern Skies Mobile Observatory.  From 2002-2011, the Public Observing Program has been operated by astronomy undergrad and postgrad students.  Much of this work was voluntary.  As of 2012, the observatory is operated by trained staff through the revamped Association for Astronomy.

sat_occ_2014
Photo Credit: Tiffany Day and Rajika Kuruwita
aon_2015
Photo Credit: Varun Sreenivasan

Blood Moon.