Melbourne Observatory was founded in 1862 to serve as a scientific research institution for the rapidly growing city of Melbourne, the capital of the colony of Victoria. The observatory was tasked by the Victorian government with maintaining an accurate time reference for the colony through observations of stars using a transit telescope as well as general astronomical research. The site chosen was a gentle hill adjacent to the Royal Botanic Gardens.Plan to see Melbourne Observatory and other attractions that appeal to you using our Melbourne travel itinerary planner.
Shortly after founding a 48in telescope was installed at the observatory for astronomical research and for a while it was the largest fully steerable telescope in the world. This instrument was referred to as the "Great Melbourne Telescope".
In 1874 the observatory took part in the worldwide effort to observe the Transit of Venus in order to better determine the distance of Earth to the Sun.
Towards the end of the 1880s the observatory took part in the international "Carte du Ciel" project to map the heavens using the, then novel, technique of photography. Being the most southerly of the sites taking part, Melbourne was assigned the region around the south celestial pole south of declination -65°.
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Melbourne Observatory Reviews
We were very unlucky the night we went because it was dumping with rain and we couldn't open any of the observatories. However the guides did a great job explaining what was there, and the rain... more »
Lucked in with clear skies that afforded awesome views of Jupiter, Saturn and stars. Colin was very informative and the history of the venue was great. Not sure what would happen on a cloudy night... more »
An awesome piece of history with a great view! Check out their telescope viewing evenings for an intriguing, education, and beautiful stargazing experience on historic equipment. Amazing evening solo or for a family, but hits a home run as an awesome first date 👌 10/10
Fascinating place and well worth the visit. I didn't know that the Melbourne Observatory once had the largest steerable telescope in the world, the "Great Melbourne Telescope".
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