View Full Version : Mount Stromlo, Canberra, Australia

John C. Mannone
01-26-2003, 01:35 AM
For the Astronomy types on this forum, here is some more sad news about the Australian fires.

I just received this from Sky and Telescope Weekly News Bulletins (free subscription at http://SkyandTelescope.com/shopatsky/emailsubscribe.asp).


A ferocious bushfire swept across the western outskirts of Canberra,
Australia, on January 18th, destroying the extensive observatory compound
atop Mount Stromlo. "The fireball came up the mountain and gutted
everything inside," reports David Herald, an occultation specialist who
lives in the area. "Yesterday afternoon here was a living hell." News
reports from the Sydney Morning Herald and other media outlets showed
burned-out domes and the incinerated tubes of the historic instruments
they housed.

At least six telescopes have been lost, including the 1.9-meter (74-inch)
Grubb-Parsons reflector, the 1.3-meter (50-inch) Great Melbourne
telescope, and the 0.7-meter (26-inch) Yale-Columbia refractor. Also
destroyed were the 23-cm (9-inch) Oddie refractor, which was installed on
the summit in 1910, and a laser-ranging station with its 1-meter
telescope. The fire then consumed the main administration building, which
housed the observatory's library, but the visitor's center and two office
buildings containing computerized archives were spared. Ian Grubb, vice
chancellor of Australian National University, stated, "Plans are already
being put in place to rebuild at Mount Stromlo and restore the research
school to its full capacity."

Perhaps the most significant scientific loss, reports John Howard of the
Canberra Astronomical Society, was the workshop containing a $5-million
imaging spectrograph known as NIFS. The nearly completed instrument was
just months away from being shipped to the 8-meter Gillett (Gemini North)
telescope atop Mauna Kea, Hawaii...."



Wild Wassa
01-26-2003, 02:22 AM
John, This has happened in my home town. I feel very sorry for the Australian National University, and staff. The VC of the Uni stated that the ANU would be giving the Observatory priorety for funding and rebuilding, ... I feel for the research officers and their students.

Mike Field posted a photograph of Mount Stromlo on the Canberra Bushfires thread. I can smell that thread from here.


01-26-2003, 04:55 AM
So many Aussies have lost so much in this disaster... :(

It would be hard to come up with some single thing that we could do as a group to help, but maybe we could start a fund to help the Aussies rebuild their observatory? They'll need books, computers, software, optical benches, mirrors, lenses, imaging sensors etc. There must be something we could contribute...

I'm good with ideas like this, but not so good at following through, so if someone wants to run with it, please do!

[ 01-26-2003, 04:58 AM: Message edited by: Meerkat ]

Mike Field
01-26-2003, 06:04 AM
That's a very nice thought indeed, Meerkat. And even if nothing were to come of it, on behalf of all us Aussies, thank you for it..

Wild Wassa
01-26-2003, 03:18 PM
Cheers Meerkat, Very kind of you Dave.

We will bounce back quickly, fires'r'us. Only people who are injured talk longer. There are many relief appeals. Government funds as well.

Only one home in four, destroyed in the Canberra fires, is uninsured. Tragic but not bad, with only four deaths.

[ 01-26-2003, 03:42 PM: Message edited by: Wild Wassa ]