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Astronomical Society

'Capturing the Night Sky' pays tribute to the 'original light show' - the dazzling night sky above us.

From the importance of the night sky to Indigenous Australians, to the quest of Western Science to understand the universe, the stars have always captivated humans. The Melbourne Observatory was built in the pursuit of this understanding and commenced operations in 1863.

Melbourne Observatory, until the early 1900s, performed the vital role of maintaining accurate timekeeping for the growing city of Melbourne and, from 1869, was home to the Great Melbourne Telescope – the largest fully steerable telescope in the world. In 1874 the Observatory took part in the world-wide effort to observe the Transit of Venus, and in the late 1800s it contributed to the international “Carte du Ciel” project, or “map of the sky”. 

The Observatory was decommissioned in 1945 when its remaining official duties were transferred to the Federal Government. Today the Melbourne Observatory site is under the stewardship of Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria and has been included on the National Heritage list as part of Melbourne’s “Domain Parkland and Memorial Precinct” since early 2018.

Since 1922, Melbourne Observatory has been closely associated with the Astronomical Society of Victoria (ASV), the largest organisation of its kind in the southern hemisphere, with over 1700 members. The ASV hosts a full calendar of activities, tours, meetings and events for everyone with an interest in astronomy. For over 70 years it has played a major role in the care of buildings and facilities at Melbourne Observatory and is currently working with Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria and Museums Victoria on the restoration of the Great Melbourne Telescope.

The projection of the moon at the Observatory plaza was taken from the Great Melbourne Telescope in 1873.  The remaining astronomical projections were imaged by ASV member Mr John Kazanas from his home in Melbourne.  As we look down on these images, they remind us that we sometimes need only look up for the best view of all.

Projection Image Credits:

  • Jupiter, imaged by Mr John Kazanas, ASV

  • Saturn, imaged by Mr John Kazanas, ASV

  • Moon, Great Melbourne Telescope, 1873


Capturing the Night Sky 

Lightscape, Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne

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