Penrith Observatory celebrates 20 years

Story image
Story image
Story image

For 20 years, the Penrith Observatory's telescope has pointed into the sky, seeking out constellations, planets and comets. Since the Penrith Observatory opened its doors in 1994, thousands of people have visited each year, and have been marvelled when looking through the array of telescopes at clusters of stars and planets. To celebrate its 20th year, the Observatory received a makeover including new paint; an upgrade of the lecture theatre and audio system, including a hearing loop; improved 3D projection system; the addition of new energy-efficient lighting; an upgrade to the main 0.6m telescope optics and control system; and an improved outside viewing platform area.

On 24 October, the Observatory was reopened, with a special Astronomy Night open to the public, including a talk by Dr John O'Sullivan, a CSIRO astronomer who won the 2009 Prime Minister's Award for Science. Dr O'Sullivan's studies into black holes led to the Wi-Fi technology that we use today – and the attribution of the invention of Wi-Fi is accredited to him.

"Upgrades to the Observatory and telescope will benefit all who use the facilities," says Associate Professor Miroslav Filipovic from the School of Computing, Engineering and Mathematics. "UWS, high school and primary school students will benefit from the updated and improved learning and teaching spaces, which include new Apple computers and a project workshop area. At the same time visitors from the public will experience a dramatically improved 3D audio-visual experience."

The Penrith Observatory is operated by a dedicated team of staff, students and volunteers belonging to the Computational Astrophysics Imaging and Simulation (CompAIS) group, which believes that everybody in the community should have an appreciation and basic understanding of the science and technology around us.

The group conducts public and school engagement programs at the Observatory, including regular Astronomy Nights.

To keep up to date on what's on, "like" the UWS Observatory Facebook page (opens in a new window) and regularly check the UWS Observatory What's On webpage. An Astronomy Night will be held on Saturday 6 December, from 8.00pm to 10.00pm, and will include a presentation, a 3D astronomy movie, a tour of the dome area and the opportunity to view the night sky through telescopes.