The Great Melbourne Telescope
The Great Melbourne Telescope is one of the great hidden stories of 19th century Australia.
Designed by leading British astronomers and erected at Melbourne
Observatory in 1869, the telescope was the second largest telescope in
the world. It was designed to explore the nature of the nebulae in the
southern skies. Were the nebulae really clouds of gas, the birthplace
of stars, or were they distant clusters of stars? Only a large telescope
could help resolve this question.
For Melburnians in the 1870s and 1880s, the telescope was tangible
evidence of Melbourne’s claim to being the leading metropolis of the
southern hemisphere. The telescope became a symbol of Marvellous
Incredibly, the telescope had a second and a third life; transferred to
Mount Stromlo Observatory near Canberra in 1945, it was rebuilt
for new astronomical projects. In the 1990s it detected compelling
evidence of dark matter. Now returned to Melbourne, it is being
restored for a new life. Few telescopes in the world have had such a
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