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Melbourne Observatory Turns 150


Sat 23 Nov 2013, 3:00pm–8:00pm

Where: Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne, Birdwood Avenue, South Yarra, Victoria

Restrictions: All Ages

Ticket Information:

  • Admission: Free
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Listed by: mediawise

Stargazers and history lovers are in for a treat when the Melbourne Observatory celebrates its 150th anniversary with a weekend of activities on 23 and 24 November.

An accurate historical re-enactment will feature two important figures associated closely with the Observatory's opening in 1863.

Dressed in period costume, appearances will be made by the Governor of the day Sir Henry Barkly and the Government Astronomer Robert Ellery. They will set the historical scene at the time of the Observatory’s beginnings and describe its work.

The celebration will be a fitting tribute to a scientific institution that played a crucial role in Victoria’s development.

With roving performers, kids’ activities, guided tours, and lots of telescopes to try out, it’ll be a great day out for the whole family.

Today the Melbourne Observatory is best known for its distinctive shaped buildings and the popular stargazing tours. What is less well known was its importance to the rapidly growing city of Melbourne in the nineteenth century.

Telling the time accurately was a major challenge for Melburnians 150 years ago. The Melbourne Observatory was able to provide the time for a clock in Bourke Street as well as the clocks at Flinders and Spencer Street railway stations.

Weather forecasting, surveying, positional astronomy, star mapping, weights and measures standards, astrophysics and geophysics were all tasks performed by the Melbourne Observatory.

From 1891 a number of southern hemisphere observatories, including Melbourne, undertook the massive task of photographing and mapping the world’s southern skies for the first time.

The anniversary celebrations start from 3pm on Saturday 23 November and include:
- Free guided tours of the Melbourne Observatory with the Astronomical Society of Victoria (ASV)
- Viewing of the Sun and Alpha Centauri from a range of available telescopes, both new and historical
- Children’s activities
- Roving entertainers
- Music performances

On Sunday 24 November the ASV will host a ticketed seminar on Australian Colonial Astronomy focusing on science, astronomy, the role of women in science, and the significance of the Melbourne Observatory. Visit to register.

All activities are free except for the seminar on Australian Colonial Astronomy.

Program details are available at or call the Royal Botanic Gardens Visitor Centre on (03) 9252 2429 for more information. Bookings are required for all tours.