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Melbourne Observatory

City of Melbourne | C43

Melbourne Observatory opened in 1863 under the guiding hand of Robert Ellery (1827–1908). It was Victoria’s centre for time setting, astronomical and geophysical studies, the initial survey of Victoria, weather data, forecasting, and weights and measures standards. The buildings were purpose-developed between 1861 and 1902, leading to their distinctive shapes and features. The telescope houses of the Melbourne Observatory are all brick construction. The domes are timber, originally covered with wooden slats and painted canvas, with galvanised iron sheet cladding fitted in the 1950s to provide better weather protection. The Photoheliograph and Astrograph domes are carried by iron wheels on iron tracks. The South Equatorial dome is a lantern roof rolling on iron cannonballs between iron races. All domes were originally moved by hand, but since 1957 the Astrograph dome has been powered by a second-hand washing machine motor. Currently, Melbourne Observatory houses the impressive Photoheliograph Telescope (1874), a telescopic camera for photographing the sun, which has captured four transits of Venus. Also on display are an original 8-inch refracting telescope by Troughton and Simms of London (1874) and a 12-inch Newtonian reflector telescope owned by the Astronomical Society of Victoria.

Need to Know

  • Open: Sat 10am-4pm

  • Heritage Listed: Yes

    Expect Queues: Yes

    Photography Restricted: Yes

  • What's Open: South Equatorial Building, Photoheliograph, Astrograph House

  • Tour Details: Sign up on arrival, tours limited, arrive early to avoid disappointment. Tours run for 30 minutes, in groups of 12

  • Special Programming: Join expert Guides on a tour of the Melbourne Observatory. Discover the history of Melbourne Observatory and the many solar and celestial events it has witnessed since 1863.

  • Building Type: Education

  • Age Restrictions: 8 years and above

  • Facilities: Toilets, Food and beverage available

  • Access: Able bodied access only

  • Year Built: 1863

  • Transport: Tram stop 21: Dallas Brooks Drive on routes 8 and 58

  • Tour Type: Guided, sign up

Location

Gate O: Birdwood Avenue, Melbourne 3004, VIC

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