Siding Spring Observatory

Located 27 kilometres west of Coonabarabran is Siding Spring Observatory, Australia’s largest optical astronomy research facility.
 
The history of Coonabarabran’s connection with astronomy began in the 1950’s when the Australian National University’s Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics began searching for a location to house their new telescopes.
 
After testing sites all over Australia, a site overlooking the Warrumbungle Ranges near Coonabarabran was chosen as the site that had the most favourable combination of conditions: high elevation (1160 metres above sea level), low humidity, a non-turbulent atmosphere for viewing clarity, clean air, plus an average of 70% of night skies clear.
 
Today there are 12 telescopes dotted around the original chosen site. Professional astronomers from all over the world visit Siding Spring Observatory to probe the mysteries of the night sky and compete for time to use the telescopes. Past projects have included mapping the entire southern hemisphere sky to discovering new planets around other stars and identifying Near Earth objects (asteroids and comets).
 
As technology improves, so does the astronomer’s ability to look through the telescopes at Siding Spring Observatory via the internet. Although thousands of kilometres away, astronomers can look at the Coonabarabran night sky from the comfort of their own office!

 
 

Visitor Information  

Siding Spring Observatory is open to the public during the day only. There is no night viewing available at Siding Spring Observatory.  
 
There is free entry into the Visitors Centre, café and gift shop and visitors are encouraged to explore the Exploratory Centre which houses an exhibition on astronomy (charges apply). Inside the Exploratory there are hands on activities and information about the universe, the solar system and the kinds of activities undertaken by the astronomers at the site.
 
Visitors are also welcome to visit the Anglo – Australian Telescope dome (AAT) which is the largest on the mountain. It houses a 3.9 metre telescope (telescope size is measured by the size of the mirror placed inside) and visitors can look at the telescope from behind the glass in the fourth floor viewing gallery. There are also information panels in the gallery which detail the kinds of work conducted by astronomers from the AAT. Don’t miss the great views of the Warrumbungles from the base of the AAT. 
 
The AAT dome also represents the Sun in the World’s Largest Virtual Solar System Drive, a scaled model of the Solar System, 38 million times smaller than outer space! Planets are located on roadsides, at RTA rest areas and Visitor Information Centres along the five main roads that link the observatory with the regional towns of Dubbo, Tamworth, Gulgong, Moree and Merriwa. For more information on the World’s Largest Virtual Solar System Drive, visit www.solarsystemdrive.com
 
Siding Spring Observatory is located 27 kilometres west of Coonabarabran on the road to Warrumbungle National Park. Please note, the last 4 kilometres are not suitable for towing caravans however caravans can be parked in a designated area at the entrance to Siding Spring Observatory.  
 
Opening Hours
Monday to Friday - 9.30am - 4pm
Sunday and Saturday - 10am - 4pm
 
Contact
P. 02 6842 6255 or 02 6842 6211
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