Melbourne Observatory

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Melbourne Observatory


In 1862, the Melbourne Observatory was founded as a scientific research institution for the capital

colony of Victoria. The government chose a hill beside the Royal Botanical Gardens as the

observatory’s site. The Victorian government then tasked the observatory to maintain an accurate

time reference through the observation of stars and other heavenly bodies. In order to do this, the observatory employed a transit telescope and general astronomical research.

After its founding, the observatory was provided with a 48-inch telescope, which was referred to as

the “Great Melbourne Telescope”. For some time, it was the world’s biggest fully steerable telescope.
In 1874, the Melbourne Observatory participated in the worldwide endeavor to observe and study the Transit of Venus in order to extrapolate the distance between the sun and the earth more accurately.
During the 1880s, the observatory again took part in another project. It was the “Carte du Ciel” project which attempted to map the heavens through photography, which was then a novel form of technology.

In 1901, the observatory was handed over by the Commonwealth government. It also became more and more difficult to make accurate astronomical observations as the light pollution from Melbourne began to increase. In 1945, the observatory was shut down. All of its contents, save for the 8-inch refracting telescope by Troughton and Simms, and the 4-inch Photoheliograph by Dallmeyer, have been sold or transferred elsewhere.

 
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