The Sydney Observatory is a place where history, story-telling, exploration and development collide.
It is an important location for a lot of Australian scientific history – in fact, the New South Wales Government has listed it as a heritage site and stated it was an item of 'state significance', according to the Sydney Observatory website.
It is the oldest observatory in Australia, dating back to 1858, and has been vital for many different things such as shipping, navigation and the study of astronomy of the Southern Hemisphere.
The observatory is outfitted with state-of-the-art solar and computer-controlled telescopes. It is also home to a space theatre where you can have a virtual reality experience; exhibitions that cover the topics of astronomy, metrology and history; a planetarium; a shop; and gardens.
Learn more about the world above by booking in a night telescope viewing experience. Get a front row seat to see the stars and learn more about them from the astronomers. They will show you the highlights and ensure you understand what you can see. The stars, clusters, planets and nebulas can differ depending on when you're there.
The observatory has historical as well as modern models. The south dome is home to the large refracting lens telescope. Harking back to 1874, this is the oldest working telescope in the country. The controlled reflecting, mirrored telescope is located in the north dome.
The night package also includes a 3-D movie experience and entrance into the exhibits.
The exhibits span meteorological research from the 19th – 20th century and cover all avenues of astronomy and meteorology. A self-guided tour will take you through all of the main attractions while providing you will relevant and useful information.
Some exhibits are 'By the light of the southern stars', 'Cadi Eora birrung' and 'Transit of Venus'. 'Cadi Eora birrung' is a particular highlight with travellers. It showcases the Aboriginal perspective of the southern sky. As the first astronomers of Australia, they gathered research and founded conclusions from watching the stars for nearly 20 million nights. After learning more through animations and interactive activities, you'll never look at the sky the same way again.
This aspect of the observatory features the incredible technology that is being developed for space exploration and research. This new aspect of the building will offer more digital experiences and opportunities.
See the progression of the night sky from dusk to dawn in a matter of minutes. Hear stories about familiar stars and the Milky Way from the indigenous Murri and Boorong people, as well as ancient Greek myths and legends. Witness an astronaut flying directly above your head and be transported to the Moon.
The observatory is easy to find, right next to the Harbour Bridge, and is easy to if you're renting a car in Sydney. There is usually lots of metered parking available on the streets surrounding the observatory, and if you want to ensure you get on-site parking, book ahead by at least two weeks.