Australia’s largest optical telescope, at Siding Spring Observatory in New South Wales, collects light with a mirror that is 3.9 metres in diameter. Although the telescope has been observing the sky since 1974, astronomers have kept it up-to-date by frequently upgrading its instruments. A recent robotic instrument enabled the telescope to get the 3D positions in space of more than 220 000 galaxies - far more than had ever been measured before.

Astronomers no longer look through large telescopes. Instead they install sophisticated instruments that record the light electronically and convert the results to a form suitable for computer analysis. A major reason why astronomers compete to use the Anglo-Australian Telescope (AAT) is the high quality of its instruments.
Australia’s largest optical telescope, at Siding Spring Observatory in New South Wales, collects light with a mirror that is 3.9 metres in diameter. Although the telescope has been observing the sky since 1974, astronomers have kept it up-to-date by frequently upgrading its instruments. A recent robotic instrument enabled the telescope to get the 3D positions in space of more than 220 000 galaxies - far more than had ever been measured before.

Astronomers no longer look through large telescopes. Instead they install sophisticated instruments that record the light electronically and convert the results to a form suitable for computer analysis. A major reason why astronomers compete to use the Anglo-Australian Telescope (AAT) is the high quality of its instruments.
This information is from the exhibition By the Light of the Southern Stars at Sydney Observatory, part of the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, Australia.
© Canadian Heritage Information Network, 2003

The Anglo-Australian Telescope Dome

The Anglo-Australian Telescope dome and utilities building at Siding Spring Observatory.

Photograph by David Malin.

Siding Spring, New South Wales, AUSTRALIA
© Anglo-Australian Observatory


The Anglo-Australian Telescope

The Anglo-Australian Telescope.

Photograph by David Malin.

Siding Spring, New South Wales, AUSTRALIA
© Anglo-Australian Observatory


The Australia Telescope Compact Array (ATCA) is comprised of six antennae (’dishes’). Each dish is 22 metres in diameter. The six work together as one telescope, simulating a single antenna six kilometres in diameter. The ATCA is the most advanced radio telescope in the Southern Hemisphere, and can make pictures comparable to those from a good ground-based optical telescope. Each year it is used by observers from more than 100 institutions worldwide.
The Australia Telescope Compact Array (ATCA) is comprised of six antennae (’dishes’). Each dish is 22 metres in diameter. The six work together as one telescope, simulating a single antenna six kilometres in diameter. The ATCA is the most advanced radio telescope in the Southern Hemisphere, and can make pictures comparable to those from a good ground-based optical telescope. Each year it is used by observers from more than 100 institutions worldwide.

© Canadian Heritage Information Network, 2003

Australia Telescope Compact Array

Antennas of the Australia Telescope Compact Array, in Narrabri.

CSIRO

© CSIRO


When CSIRO’s Parkes telescope was completed in 1961 it was only the second large telescope of its kind in the world. Today the telescope, 64 m in diameter, is still the biggest dish in the Southern Hemisphere dedicated to radio astronomy. It has been continually improved throughout its life, by upgrading of its surface, control system and instrumentation. This telescope has played an important part in many research projects including the first landing on the Moon, the search for extra-terrestrial life, and hunting for faint and hidden galaxies. It has also helped astronomers to learn that quasars, which look like tiny points of light, are actually the powerful centres of very distant galaxies; helped work out the shape of our Galaxy; discovered the magnetic fields in space; and found far more pulsars than any other telescope in the World.
When CSIRO’s Parkes telescope was completed in 1961 it was only the second large telescope of its kind in the world. Today the telescope, 64 m in diameter, is still the biggest dish in the Southern Hemisphere dedicated to radio astronomy. It has been continually improved throughout its life, by upgrading of its surface, control system and instrumentation. This telescope has played an important part in many research projects including the first landing on the Moon, the search for extra-terrestrial life, and hunting for faint and hidden galaxies. It has also helped astronomers to learn that quasars, which look like tiny points of light, are actually the powerful centres of very distant galaxies; helped work out the shape of our Galaxy; discovered the magnetic fields in space; and found far more pulsars than any other telescope in the World.

© Canadian Heritage Information Network, 2003

The Parkes Telescope

The Parkes Telescope.

Photo: S. Duff

New South Wales, AUSTRALIA
© CSIRO


The Dominion Astrophysical Observatory (DAO) is the headquarters of Canada's Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics and is also home to two optical telescopes-the 1.8-metre Plaskett Telescope and the 1.2-metre McKellar Telescope. The 1.8-metre Plaskett Telescope was the largest operating telescope in the world when it was first built in 1918. John Stanley Plaskett (1865-1941) designed the telescope and was its first director. His team confirmed the rotation of the Milky Way.

Although the telescope is small by today's standards, it's still a useful research instrument. One of the telescope's projects is to track near-Earth asteroids, which are asteroids whose orbits cross over the Earth's orbit. Plaskett follows the orbits of these asteroids so we'll know in advance if there is any danger of a collision.

The Plaskett Telescope has an aluminizing chamber on its ground floor to periodically replace the aluminum surface of the mirror.
The Dominion Astrophysical Observatory (DAO) is the headquarters of Canada's Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics and is also home to two optical telescopes-the 1.8-metre Plaskett Telescope and the 1.2-metre McKellar Telescope. The 1.8-metre Plaskett Telescope was the largest operating telescope in the world when it was first built in 1918. John Stanley Plaskett (1865-1941) designed the telescope and was its first director. His team confirmed the rotation of the Milky Way.

Although the telescope is small by today's standards, it's still a useful research instrument. One of the telescope's projects is to track near-Earth asteroids, which are asteroids whose orbits cross over the Earth's orbit. Plaskett follows the orbits of these asteroids so we'll know in advance if there is any danger of a collision.

The Plaskett Telescope has an aluminizing chamber on its ground floor to periodically replace the aluminum surface of the mirror.

© Canadian Heritage Information Network, 2003

Dominion Astrophysical Observatory (DAO)

Almost as soon as the telescope had recorded its first spectrogram astronomers at DAO began establishing research landmarks. A comprehensive survey of pairs of stars in orbit around each other vastly expanded our knowledge of their sizes, temperatures and masses through study of their gravitational effects on each other. Discovery of the most massive binary star, and the most massive star known. Determination of the size and mass of the Milky Way galaxy, the beautiful system of stars, dust and gas which is home to our very own star, the sun, and its planets. Revelation of the two hundred and twenty million year orbit we follow above the center of the galaxy. Demonstration that matter is widely distributed between the stars, a fact that made us reconsider the true size of the galaxy. Discovery of the first molecules in interstellar space, including organic molecules that are central to life, and measurement of the temperature of inter-stellar space, warmed by heat left over from the birth of the universe some fifteen billion years ago.

Canadian Heritage Information Network

© Canadian Heritage Information Network, 2003


John Stanley Plaskett

John Stanley Plaskett designed the 1.8 metre telescope at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory and was its first director. His team confirmed the rotation of the Milky Way.

National Research Council of Canada

© National Research Council of Canada


Plaskett Telescope dome exterior

Plaskett Telescope dome exterior, Dominion Astrophysical Observatory.

National Research Council of Canada

Victoria, British Columbia, CANADA
© National Research Council of Canada


McKellar Telescope

The 1.2 metre McKellar Telescope at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory in Victoria, British Columbia is named for Andre McKellar, the first to discover temperature of interstellar space and the presence organic molecules in interstellar space.

National Research Council of Canada

© National Research Council of Canada


The Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory (DRAO) opened outside Penticton in the Okanagan Valley in 1960. The DRAO continues to explore the sky with its radio telescopes, including a 26-metre antenna and a seven-antenna synthesis telescope.

The seven radio antennas on the DRAO Synthesis Telescope all point to the same location in the sky. Together, the antennas create a more detailed image than any single antenna could produce.

DRAO takes part in many international research projects, including the International Galactic Plane Survey and the Square Kilometre Array.
The Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory (DRAO) opened outside Penticton in the Okanagan Valley in 1960. The DRAO continues to explore the sky with its radio telescopes, including a 26-metre antenna and a seven-antenna synthesis telescope.

The seven radio antennas on the DRAO Synthesis Telescope all point to the same location in the sky. Together, the antennas create a more detailed image than any single antenna could produce.

DRAO takes part in many international research projects, including the International Galactic Plane Survey and the Square Kilometre Array.

© Canadian Heritage Information Network, 2003

Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory (DRAO)

The 26-metre Radio Telescope dish at the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory in Penticton British Columbia.

National Research Council of Canada

Penticton, British Columbia, CANADA
© National Research Council of Canada


The Gemini Observatory includes two eight-metre telescopes, one located in each hemisphere of the Earth so that astronomers can observe all parts of the sky. Gemini North, in the northern hemisphere, is on the summit of Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano on the island of Hawaii. Mauna Kea is remote and dry with few clouds, offering astronomers excellent "seeing quality."

Gemini South, in the southern hemisphere, scans the universe from atop Cerro Pachón in central Chile. The Gemini telescopes are almost identical, and with them astronomers can explore any part of the sky in both optical and infrared light.
The Gemini Observatory includes two eight-metre telescopes, one located in each hemisphere of the Earth so that astronomers can observe all parts of the sky. Gemini North, in the northern hemisphere, is on the summit of Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano on the island of Hawaii. Mauna Kea is remote and dry with few clouds, offering astronomers excellent "seeing quality."

Gemini South, in the southern hemisphere, scans the universe from atop Cerro Pachón in central Chile. The Gemini telescopes are almost identical, and with them astronomers can explore any part of the sky in both optical and infrared light.

© Canadian Heritage Information Network, 2003

Description of Gemini Telescopes.

The Gemini Observatory actually consists of two telescopes. One on Hawaii’s Mauna Kea and the other in Chile on a mountain top called Cerro Pachón. Together, these twin telescopes can observe the entire sky over both hemispheres of our planet. The global partnerships that built Gemini consists of seven countries including the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Brazil, Argentina and Chile.

Canadian Heritage Information Network

© Canadian Heritage Information Network, 2003


Gemini North

Mirror

Click on the Gemini mirror to learn more.

Here we see the Gemini North mirror shortly after receiving its first reflecting aluminum coating. This process is done at least once each year in a large vacuum chamber located in the basement of each Gemini enclosure. Click on the top button to learn more or follow the Gemini Mirrors World Travel by selecting the middle button. Choose your next destination from the list above.

Explore this page to learn more about the Gemini Mirrors and how they are coated and were transported around the world to get to Hawaii and Chile.

Vents

These huge vents are unique to Gemini. Click on them to learn more.

This fly-over shows the 3-story high Gemini vents that allow for complete ventilation of the dome and significantly clearer views of the cosmos.

Gemini North

© Gemini North


Learning Objectives

The learner will:

  • Describe scientific and technological developments, past and present and appreciate their impact on individuals and societies
  • Describe how Canadians have contributed to science and technology on the global stage
  • Develop enthusiasm and continuing interest in the study of science

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