View Full Version here: : Mt Stromlo...what gives?
19-04-2012, 12:13 AM
While in recently Canberra, I took a drive up to Mt Stromlo.
I suspect the admin centre is new, yet the interior of the domes remain burnt-out shells.
I had hoped for a visitor centre, but, no, just a coffee shop....
I could not help but think of "Yes Minister" and the episode about the hospital with, no doctors, nurses or patients but the bureaucrats were gainfully employed "administering" said facility. (patients "got in the way")
Anyone know what Stromlo's future plans are?
19-04-2012, 07:26 PM
Is there another equivalent, if so then in all probability it will not be funded to be repaired or replaced, unless of course there is sufficient public and media outcry.
I'd ask your Federal Minister
19-04-2012, 07:33 PM
there is a fair bit on the go but it took a long time to get a settlement from the insurers
and the GMT, not in the ACT anymore but back home
20-04-2012, 10:54 PM
Go visit Tidbinbilla's Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex instead. That's just as interesting.
21-04-2012, 10:18 AM
Evidently, we're a nation of coffee addicts!
21-04-2012, 10:30 AM
Canberra's expansion to the foothills and west of Mt Stromlo make it pointless building anything except solar observatories.
It's so sad, having been there in the '60s and seeing all the equipment they had and the pine forests, to go back now to the desolation.
21-04-2012, 12:04 PM
I was at ANU in the 70's and 80's... Mt Stromlo had three roles. It is fair to say that even 30 years ago little in the way of serious professional observations were made at Stromlo, but it was important nevertheless.
Firstly, it's primary role was as a teaching facility (the Astronomy department) within the postgraduate school (the Institute of Advanced Studies, as it was then called) for those aiming to to do a PhD in astronomy. This means a facility which is reasonably representative of a modern facility to give them exposure to the practical aspects of astronomy - bear in mind that while many of the PhD students are obviously bright, many had NEVER actually used a telescope before arriving at Stromlo. Even fewer had the foggiest idea about how to use a plate camera, a photometer or a CCD and teaching these basics was par for the course.
Secondly, from an observational perspective it was basically a test bed for telescopes and equipment built/developed by the RSPhys laboratory workshops. Once the equipment was sorted out at Stromlo it would subsequently be sent to Siding Spring for serious use. FWIW the 50" at Stromlo was equipped with a backend identical to the AAO 150" to facilitate this testing.
Thirdly, it was the home of the Research School of Astronomy. Since the fire this has been relocated within the campus, regrettably.
And yes, even in 1975 Canberra's expansion was obvious and implied the end of Stromlo was imminent even as a teaching facility. Everything has a use-by date. Stromlo served its purpose admirably, but it was high time to move on even before the fire, which effectively forced that decision.
23-04-2012, 08:26 PM
I spent some time in Melbourne and managed a visit to the original home of the Melbourne 'mirror', before it was moved to Stromlo.
Seems to be the way of Australia's optical observatories. How long before Siding Spring goes the same way?:shrug:
Not long I fear.:(
23-04-2012, 09:09 PM
I can't remember where I read it but I do remember reading an article that said Mt. Stromlo will NOT be rebuilt as light pollution is starting to encroach into it's neighbourhood making it a pointless exercise.
23-04-2012, 09:21 PM
I thought I read iStar recently supplied a large refractor obj for Stromlo
Melb is used to show tour groups thru the domes 12" newt & 8" refractor
25-04-2012, 09:27 AM
I have read that Dr Tim Wetherell has rebuilt the Oddie refractor with an istar lens. The intention is to put it back on the mount which made it through the fire ! I for one will go up and look when its back together as I got to use the original Oddie in 1978, as a year 11 student doing astronomy units. Very sad when the whole thing went up in smoke :( It was a beautiful spot, especially for a refractorholic like me. Matt
25-04-2012, 09:57 AM
Indeed Matt - and here is the site describing the re-build:
25-04-2012, 11:01 AM
Steampunks to good work! :lol: Thanks for posting Chris.
25-04-2012, 12:07 PM
Thanks Chris have saved that to the desk top :) I remember the tube and the mount being grey, but white looks even better.
27-04-2012, 09:11 AM
Me too (http://www.pbase.com/strongmanmike2002/image/110766126/original):)
27-04-2012, 09:15 AM
Wow, one Mike... hold the beef. LOL :)
27-04-2012, 04:58 PM
That's a dead link Chris
27-04-2012, 05:01 PM
Nope, works fine Ken. :shrug: Try clicking on the link in my original post, not a quoted one.
27-04-2012, 05:09 PM
Yep, I just tried again a few times. No go.
Here's what I get from your original link:
27-04-2012, 05:18 PM
It's OK Chris, I googled it and went in that way, thanks :thumbsup:
James Oddie is a bit of a legend around here.
He built the Ballarat Observatory, owned a shop just just down the road here, and his Family is still here in Snake Valley.
His Grandson Neville is a friend of mine and fellow CFA member.
Another Oddie Refractor is still housed and in use at the Ballarat Observatory.
I was trying to get information about James Oddie from Neville one day, but his comment was, "oh yeah, I think Grandpa had something to do with a telescope or something, I don't know, nor do I really care" :screwy:
28-04-2012, 10:37 PM
A little-known secret - there is another Oddie refractor which hopefully survives - it is a Thomas Cooke 4.5" f/16 refractor which was donated to Canberra Grammar School by Oddie possibly around 1936.
It has an exquisite mount made from phosphor bronze with a clockwork drive (with governor, like a miniature version of the 9" Oddie at Stromlo).
The scope was refurbished in the early 70's and had a concrete pad with a rolloff-shed up the back near the boarders' dormitories. The eyepiece end had a somewhat unusual diameter but with the help of some cork strips would hold 1.25" eyepieces. The original eyepieces were Ramsdens/Huygens and basically useless compared to a modern Kellner or ortho.
It was my first acquaintance with a decent telescope - it had text-book perfect optics BTW, many happy memories of fine views of the planets and star clusters, and subsequently the 9" Oddie at Stromlo.
29-04-2012, 06:32 AM
Still about 100kg there but a far cry from the 130kg of heavy lift meat at my peak in 2001...err and from the 142kg of mutton now...:sadeyes:
29-04-2012, 06:56 PM
Love the Oddie shot Mike. : ) I used the scope for a few secondary school lessons in the late '80s. So sad about the fire. Here's some nocturnal external photos from 1987-88. The first one is with Jupiter and the (then) Canberra sky glow in the background.
29-04-2012, 09:14 PM
Cool shots Tom...ahhh, those were the days...
29-04-2012, 10:50 PM
A night with the Oddie circa 1973... I had it on most Monday nights - I'm standing at the left :)
29-04-2012, 11:03 PM
That photo is great, so nostalgic, that soft orange light, I felt like I was back in the dome...made me yearn to return to those times :sadeyes:...the good'ol days where you did everything by hand...raw astronomy
29-04-2012, 11:16 PM
Not to mention the plate camera which I used, often, until one night I finally strapped my 8" f/7 Newtonian on top of the Oddie and used the Oddie as a very big guide scope...
29-04-2012, 11:33 PM
For your information there is another Oddie telescope in Australia
I've had a look through it when I was in Geelong.
29-04-2012, 11:45 PM
Ah yes the Zeiss Camera, took 4X5 sheet film if I remember, my friend Attila took some shots with it in 1983, the year before I arrived in Canberra but without much real success, hence why we also strapped the Celestron 5 to the Oddie :thumbsup:
We found the weight driven clock drive quite accurate but it had a periodic ~10" jump that was hard to catch and guide out every rotation.
30-04-2012, 12:15 AM
Originally quarter plates, usually 103aO for which it was designed for. The snag is, even then we were stripping the emulsions off used plates and recoating them by hand in the darkroom. Not exactly sharp at the best of times and the 20" focal length was pathetic when you had a whopping 9" f/16 to use as a guidescope.
Someone added a cut-sheet film holder shortly before I left Canberra but I suspect you may have had issues with this if you weren't using filters and refocussing to suit as the focal length varied a bit with wavelength, the optics were really an aerial photography camera (as was the MOTS but I digress)
The worst part was that the increasing sky-glow in Canberra meant that the f/5 20" camera hit the sky limit pretty quickly. Even in the 1950's it had hit its limit. My 20cm f/7 Newtonian made a whole lot more sense - the slower focal ratio meant a far lower sky brightness, and the all-reflecting optics meant perfect achromatism (so no filters) and it was razor sharp. Took some awesome shots of clusters and comets on fine grain film.
Re the dicky drive... it was superb when I used it but as I recall, a few years later one of the Stromlo staff (he should remain anonymous) had a bit of an incident one night and the drive was never the same afterwards, I think the worm shaft was bent. There was some talk about an electric drive but nothing happened... Not that the university really cared about fixing it, as the Oddie was only for high school kids and basic teaching anyway.
The other thing was that other groups used it on other nights so the drive was invariably out of calibration when I used it; so you really had to know how to set the governor accurately.
30-04-2012, 01:09 AM
Yes I seem to remember a filter was necessary on the Zeiss to get sharp-ish images?
I also remember that story of the accident that stuffed the drive, huh, memories...yes, the drive was fine except for the jump.
The Newt sounds like it was pretty good...ahh the good'ol 8" F7 (http://www.pbase.com/strongmanmike2002/image/110764271/original) huh?...ah memories :)
Here's a closeup (http://www.pbase.com/strongmanmike2002/image/73602890/original) of the Zeiss (showing the big plate holder) and our Celestron5 and home made cold camera mounted on it
03-05-2012, 03:47 PM
hopefully its still around and not scrapped :(
03-05-2012, 05:45 PM
Fabulous thread fellas :thanx:some great memories and images there :D
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