optical astronomy observatory prospectus

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UTAS is building a new state-of-the-art observatory at a carefully selected location in the Southern Midlands region of Tasmania.


  • Bisdee Tier OpTical asTrOnOmy OBservaTOry, Tasmania, ausTralia.

    JOin us On Our rOad TO discOvery.

    contact the university of Tasmania Foundation+61 3 6226 1920


  • AdvAncement of the frontiers of knowledge is A vitAl role for universities, And tAkes us, As A society, into the future. fundAmentAl reseArch is An integrAl pArt of the university of tAsmAniA, contributing to its identity And sense of purpose.

    for those who Are excited by the seArch for the unknown, the joy of discovery And the rewArd of insight, i commend to you this AppeAl for A new opticAl observAtory. your support will be A legAcy for the future.

    professor dAryl le grew vice-chAncellor university of tAsmAniA

    image credits: nasa, esa, and the Hubble Heritage Team (sTsci/aura).

    covers and page 67: m16, the eagle nebula (detail)

    page 23: exoplanet Hr8799b (artist's conception)

    page 89: Transiting exoplanet Hd189733b (artists conception)

    page 11: m74 spiral galaxy

    page 1213: nGc 3324 star-forming region

    page 15: perseus a active galaxy

  • Bisdee Tier OpTical asTrOnOmy OBservaTOry, Tasmania, ausTralia.

    JOin us On Our rOad TO discOvery.

  • Our JOurney OF discOveryFor over thirty years, astronomers at the university of Tasmania (uTas) have studied, discovered, uncovered and redefined the universe, as we know it. Thanks to the optical astronomy observatory at mt canopus near Hobart in Tasmania, australia, uTas has made groundbreaking contributions within the field of astrophysics.

    With each new incredible discovery, new questions arise and new tools and techniques are needed to enable us to answer these questions and continue our journey of discovery. it is for these reasons and more that uTas are constructing a new optical astronomy observatory on Bisdee Tier, spring Hill, Tasmania.

    We invite you to become a part of this innovative and exciting astronomy project that will have significant impact in australia and throughout the world.

    mT canOpusFor over thirty years the observatory at mt canopus has served the uTas optical astronomy team well and has played a significant role in the astronomical community. some of the important contributions made at mt canopus include the discovery of more than ten planets that orbit stars thousands of light years away. uTas has played a crucial role in measuring the atmospheres of pluto as well as other minor planets and contributed heavily to the study of million-degree gases, neutron stars and black holes.

    THe FuTure BeckOnsin recent years the mt canopus observatory has become less effective as a scientific facility due to ageing equipment and light pollution caused by nearby commercial and residential development. For these reasons, we need to upgrade our facilities to ensure we can continue to undertake important research, training and education programs. The upgraded site will allow us at uTas to continue to maintain and enhance our international scientific collaborations.

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  • uTas is building a new state-of-the-art observatory at a carefully selected location in the southern midlands region of Tasmania. This new facility will see uTas continue as a world leader in astrophysics and enable new and renewed opportunities for programs of discovery. These programs range from one-night student led projects to major decade-long international collaborations with observatories and universities around the world.

    This project is possible thanks to the generous donation of a new $2 million telescope.due to the delivery date of this telescope, the observatory dome must be completed as soon as possible. The aggressive timeline for this project makes fundraising a matter of urgency and an exercise of utmost importance.

    $2 milliOn TelescOpe 60% larGer THan THe mT canOpus TelescOpe

    neW FaciliTies FOr sTudenTs, researcHers and visiTOrs.

    Fully auTOmaTed OBservaTOry access via THe inTerneT aT anyTime and FrOm anyWHere in THe WOrld

    The new observatory will be fully automated so that observers can control the telescope from the internet anytime and from anywhere in the world. The observatory will incorporate a state-of-the-art enclosure for control of the thermal environment and airflow over the telescope. This enclosure will also result in the telescope delivering the sharpest possible images. a second building will serve as quarters for observers and provide facilities for students, researchers and visitors.

    Our prOJecT


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  • lOcaTiOnThe uTas school of mathematics and physics will construct the upgraded observatory on Bisdee Tier, spring Hill, Tasmania. The site for the new optical astronomy observatory has been selected under the expert guidance and direction of dr John Greenhill and is one of the best locations in Tasmania for astronomical observations. a short distance from Hobart, this site provides exceptional accessibility to astronomers, students, staff and visitors. due to the sites low air turbulence, sensitive observations will be possible ensuring that images captured at this facility will be as clear as those taken from leading observatories in australia. importantly, this location is virtually free of light pollution and will remain so over the full 50-year lifespan of the project.

    Bisdee Tier, sprinG Hill




    4225 s


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  • Our TarGeTThe total cost of this new facility is $aud 5.8 million. This figure includes the $2 million telescope itself as well as the movable dome and optical, electronic and mechanical systems. $3.8 million is dedicated to the building and development of the observatory and surrounding site.

    The sale of the current observatory at mt canopus and support from uTas administration will raise approximately $1.6 million while generous contributions from friends of uTas and supporters of scientific research will enable us to bridge the $2.2 million gap. We ask you to pledge your support to ensure the successful and timely completion of this state-of-the-art facility.

    $5.8 milliOn TOTal FaciliTy cOsT

    $2.2 milliOn cOnTriBuTiOns needed FrOm Friends and suppOrTers

    $2 milliOn TelescOpe

    $3.8 milliOn BuildinG & develOpmenT

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  • Our scienTiFic GOals and capaBiliTiesFrom our unique location, astronomers will be able to study celestial objects that are difficult or impossible to see from more northerly latitudes. The region of sky accessible to the new observatory contains scientifically compelling targets such as the centre of the milky Way, the magellanic clouds as well as many star-forming regions and galaxy clusters. The new observatory will be one of only two major observatories in the world capable of observing the magellanic clouds year round.

    The new observatory will allow uTas to continue making important contributions to astrophysics without the need to contend with expensive, unpredictable and limited opportunities to use interstate and international telescopes.

    a prOud memBer OF THe prOBinG lensinG anOmalies neTWOrk

    uTas is part of the probing lensing anomalies network, a worldwide organisation that specialises in the use of gravitational micro-lensing in the continuing search for new solar systems and planets. The new observatory will be integral in the research effort to determine the frequency and characteristics of planetary systems around stars other than the sun. uTas will also have the equipment and expertise to measure earth-like planets around distant suns.

    cOnTinuOus TelescOpe access

    Our new facility will allow us to have continuous telescope access for months at a time something that is not possible when using other institutions facilities. The access at our new observatory will enable postgraduate students to hone their skills and allow them adequate time to experiment and utilise the facility to its full potential. This continuous access will also provide students undertaking their phd, msc, or Bsc degrees the practical experience necessary to successfully compete for time on major national and international facilities.

    venTurinG BeyOnd THe sTars

    uTas research currently spans scales from planets to stars to galaxies. Other studies include the distortion and disruption of stars in the vicinity of black holes as well as the chemistry, age and orbital trajectories of some of the oldest stars in the universe. These projects will be continued and expanded upon using the upgraded facility.

    The capability of our new facility will be utilised to open new areas of research, including the long-term study of hundreds of stars that have similar characteristics to the sun. This important research is conducted in order to understand the variability of solar energy and its possible effects on terrestrial climate change.


    researcH in asTrOpHysics

    pOsTGraduaTe sTudies

    cOnTinuinG THe searcH FOr neW planeTs

    GraviTaTiOnal micrOlensinG

    planeTary OBservaTiOn

    scienTiFic sTudy cOnTinuOus

    TelescOpic access

    THe sTudy OF celesTial OBJecTs

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  • Our visiOnTHe neW FaciliTy Will Be used FOr:



    hands-onlearningandinstructionofastronomicaltechniquesandinstrumentdevelopment in optics, computing and electronics

    publicoutreachactivitiesincludingvisitsbyschoolstudentsandcommunitygroups as well as regular open house events for the general public



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