This book tells the story of the Mt Stromlo Observatory in Canberra which began with W.G. Duffield's idealism and vision in 1905. The Observatory began life as a government department, later becoming an optical munitions factory producing gun sights and telescopes during the Second World War, before changing its focus to astrophysics – the new astronomy.
In the ensuing years programs were introduced to push the Observatory in new directions at the international frontiers of astronomy. The astronomers built new, better and larger telescopes to unravel the secrets of the universe. There were controversies, exciting new discoveries and new explanations of phenomena that had been discovered. The Observatory and its researchers have contributed to determining how old the universe is, participated in the largest survey of galaxies in the universe, and helped to show us that the universal expansion is accelerating – research that led to Brian Schmidt and his international team being awarded the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics.
These and other major discoveries are detailed in this fascinating book about one of the great observatories in the world.
The book is about a national icon which is very much tied up with the history of Australia’s national capital, Canberra. It is about the idealism and vision of an unknown research student, Geoffrey Duffield in the 1920s and how this vision was achieved by the astronomers who came after him.
Highlights some of the most significant astronomical discoveries made with the innovative telescopes and instruments that changed the face of 20th and early 21st century astronomy.
Illustrated with historical documents, wonderful and exciting images of the universe we live in and quotations from the astronomers about the issues, controversies and the discoveries they made that propelled the observatory into international fame.
About the authors
1 A beginning in the bush
2 A bush observatory
4 Optical munitions factory
5 The change master
6 The astronomical godfather
7 A life on the dome floor
8 Astronomical entrepreneur
9 An instrumentalist and the MACHO project
10 Masters of the Universe
11 Bush fires and a new beginning
12 Fellows and the Nobel Prize
13 Nobel Lecture
Appendix 1. Timeline of major events
Professional and amateur astronomers
University libraries and university and college astronomy departments
General public interested in astronomy
Schools and other educational institutions
Ragbir Bhathal is an award winning author and astrophysicist in the School of Computing, Mathematics and Engineering at the University of Western Sydney. He has published eight books on astronomy and several papers in international refereed journals. He was the Foundation Director of the Singapore Science Centre, a UNESCO Consultant on science policy and science centres, and an Adviser to the Federal Minister for Science. He was awarded the prestigious Nancy Keesing Fellowship, the C J Dennis Award for excellence in natural history writing and the 1988 Royal Society of NSW medal for services to science and research. He is the Director of the Australian Optical SETI Project and a Visiting Fellow at the Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the Australian National University.
Ralph Sutherland is a Research Fellow at the Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the Australian National University. He has published widely in international refereed journals, and has a textbook on the astrophysics of the interstellar medium.
Harvey Butcher is well known for the discovery of the Butcher-Oemler effect and the design and implementation of advanced astronomical instrumentation including LOFAR (Low Frequency Array for Radio Astronomy), one of the largest radio telescopes in the world. Before taking up the position of Director of the Research School for Astronomy and Astrophysics at the Australian National University, he was the Director of the Netherlands Foundation for Research in Astronomy (ASTRON). He was awarded the knighthood of the Order of the Netherlands Lion in 2005 for contributions to multidisciplinary science innovation and public outreach.