Built in 1858, Sydney Observatory is one of the most significant sites in the nation’s scientific history. It is recognised as an item of ‘state significance’ by the New South Wales Government and is heritage listed.
In the 19th and early 20th centuries, the Observatory was essential to shipping, navigation, meteorology and timekeeping as well as to the study of the stars seen from the Southern Hemisphere. The Government Astronomers worked and lived in the building until 1982* when Sydney Observatory became part of the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences.
Today the Observatory is a museum and public observatory with an important role in astronomy education and public telescope viewing. It contains an 1874 29cm lens telescope, a 42cm computer-controlled telescope and a hydrogen-alpha solar telescope, able to be viewed through by visitors during booked sessions. There are also a virtual reality 3-D space theatre, exhibitions about astronomy, meteorology and the history of Sydney Observatory, digital planetarium, lecture theatrette, souvenir shop and beautiful gardens. Engaging Astronomy, Dreamtime astronomy, Measuring the Weather and Archeaology tours are able to be booked by schools, community groups and individuals.
Sydney Observatory is located near the historic Rocks district and the world-famous Sydney Harbour Bridge, and is easily accessed by bus, train, ferry or car.
* The NSW Government Astronomers who lived (with their families) and worked at Sydney Observatory were:
William Scott 1858 – 1862
George Robarts Smalley 1864 – 1870
Henry Chamberlain Russell 1870 – 1905
Henry Alfred Lenehan 1907 – 1908
W E Raymond (Officer -in- charge) 1908 – 1912
William Ernest Cooke 1912 – 1926
James Nangle 1926 – 1941
Harley Weston Wood 1943 – 1974
William Humphrey Robertson 1975 – 1982