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Tragedy in Canberra Australia Jan 2003


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Hi All,


I'm sure you all have seen the sad sight on tonight's ITN News, where the bushfires in Canberra have all but destroyed the National Observatory on Mount Stromlo which overlooks the city.  It looks like most of the old telescopes have been destroyed including the famous 50" Great Melbourne Telescope, and the 26"Yale Colombia refractor.  The old admin block is a shell but one of the towers attached to it seems to have survived.  There id no news of the 30" but reports say the 74" is damaged, how much we don't yet know.


You might also be interested in HORIZON on BBC2 on Thursday night 23rd at 9pm.  Its called "Averting Armageddon" how to avoid being hit by one of those NEO's.  Should be interesting to see what they advise!


Also, on Saturday night there is a programme called "Supervolcanoes" on BBC2 at 8.20pm which might be worth a look.

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Some new info has come to light.  At least six telescopes have been lost, including the 74" Grubb-Parsons reflector, the 50" Great Melbourne reflector, the 26" Yale-Columbia refractor and the 9" Oddie refractor which dates from about 1910 and is a Grubb. 

Also lost was a laser-ranging station with its 1-meter telescope.  The fire also destroyed the main administration building, which housed the observatory library, but the Visitor's Centre and two office blocks survived.

The main workshops were also destroyed containing a $5 million imaging spectrograph known as NIFS which was nearly completed and ready for shipping to Mauna Kea, Hawaii. 


Shown on the page are two images, an aerial shot which is courtesy of the MACHO Project and one showing one of the burned out telescope domes.  In the ariel photo the dome of the 50" is centre, and the large dome on the right is the 74"

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More info will be posted as we get it.

For further details contact the Society Chairman, John C.McConnell.


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