Physics and Astronomy
The Association for Astronomy and the Department of Physics & Astronomy invite you to observe the cosmos with your own eyes at the Macquarie University Astronomical Observatory. You will be guided through the night sky by our professional astronomy staff, who will show you planets, binary stars, nebulae, star clusters, and even bright galaxies through our 16" and 12" professional in-dome telescopes. All are welcome!
- Observing Sessions
- Bookings for Scout Groups
- How To Get Here
- Teaching Activities
- Research Activities
- History of the Observatory
- Photo Gallery
Friday Night Observing Sessions
Observatory sessions run on every Friday night from March to November inclusive (excluding public holidays). Sessions run from 8:00-9:30 pm during daylight savings, and 7:00-8:30 pm during the rest of the year.
Bookings are essential: All tickets for admission are now sold online. We do not accept cash at the door! Please visit our online booking system to purchase a ticket. All prices are inclusive of GST. If you get a student discount or book as an AfA member, you MUST bring your card to enter!
|Date||Session Time||Tickets||Observing Status|
|8 March 2013||8pm - 9:30 pm||Book Here||Observing is ON!|
|15 March 2013||8pm - 9:30 pm||Book Here||Observing is ON!|
|22 March 2013||8pm - 9:30 pm||Book Here||Observing is cancelled due to poor weather.|
|5 April 2013||8pm - 9:30 pm||Book Here||Observing is ON!|
|12 April 2013||7pm - 8:30 pm||Book Here||Observing is ON!|
|19 April 2013||7pm - 8:30 pm||Book Here||Observing in ON!|
|26 April 2013||7pm - 8:30 pm||Book Here||Observing in ON!|
|3 May 2013||7pm - 8:30 pm||Book Here||Observing is cancelled due to low bookings|
|10 May 2013||7pm - 8:30 pm||Book Here||Observing in ON!|
|17 May 2013||7pm - 8:30 pm||Book Here||Observing in ON!|
|24 May 2013||7pm - 8:30 pm||Book Here|
|31 May 2013||7pm - 8:30 pm||Book Here|
|7 June 2013||7pm - 8:30 pm||Coming Soon|
|14 June 2013||7pm - 8:30 pm||Coming Soon|
|21 June 2013||7pm - 8:30 pm||Coming Soon|
|28 June 2013||7pm - 8:30 pm||Coming Soon|
|5 July 2013||7pm - 8:30 pm||Coming Soon|
|12 July 2013||7pm - 8:30 pm||Coming Soon|
|19 July 2013||7pm - 8:30 pm||Coming Soon|
|26 July 2013||7pm - 8:30 pm||Coming Soon|
If the weather is bad, we will make a call by 5:00 pm on the day of the event as to whether or not the session is cancelled. If it is cancelled, we will post the cancellation on Facebook, Twitter, and on the table above. Full refunds are given in cases of bad weather.
Please note that if we have less than 5 people booked in for any one session, the session will be cancelled and 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 5:00 pm on the day of the event. For queries, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get back to you ASAP.
Bookings for Scout Groups
We offer concession rates for privately booked sessions for 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 Scout page.
How to Get Here
The Observatory is located on the northern grounds of Macquarie University, on Gymnasium Road, near the corner of Culloden and Waterloo Roads. Once on Gymnasium Road, take the first left onto the N3 parking lot. The observatory is at the northeast side of the lot - you can't miss it (see map). Parking is free for the first two hours with a ticket and free after 8:00 pm 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.
Click here for a map or here for a Google Map.
» 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.
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.
Several of our astronomy units have an observing component, where students visit the observatory at night to observe planets, nebulae and clusters. There is some hope that this program will be expanded in future semesters to also include using the CCD camera for imaging.
Honours Research Projects
From time to time, one-year honours 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.
History of the Observatory
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.
Decisions about whether observing are made around 5:00 PM on the day of observing. All bookings should be made before 4 PM, when we last check the messages.