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L

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 For 40 years, Melbourne was home to one of the world's great telescopes. This week the Victorian-era instrument returns after a 60-year absence, as part of an ambitious project to rebuild what was known internationally as the Great Melbourne Telescope.
Shipped out from its makers in Ireland in 1869, the Great Melbourne Telescope was pieced together in a custom-designed building at the Melbourne Observatory on Birdwood Avenue.

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L

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There is a self guided tour available from Friday to Monday. There are also Tuesday evening presentations ‘The Night Sky Experience’. Bookings are essential for both programs (03) 9252-2429. The Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne has a visitor centre, function rooms, Observatory Cafe and a Gardens’ Shop..

When: Every day
Time: Open 10am - 4pm
Where: Meet at Visitor Centre, Observatory Gate, RBG Melbourne.
Cost: $2
Bookings and enquiries: Tel +61 03 9252 2429. Group bookings can be made by special arrangement.

http://www.rbg.vic.gov.au/home

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L

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During the middle of the 19th century the Government of Victoria voted the sum of £5000 for the construction of a large equatorial telescope to be erected at the Melbourne Observatory, Australia.

The construction of the grand instrument was entrusted to Mr.Grubb, F.R.S., of Dublin, Ireland. At the commencement of the year 1868 the telescope was completed, and examined by a committee of the Royal Society, made up of Lord Rosse, Dr.Robinson and Warren De La Rue. In their report they expressed their opinion that the equatorial was a masterpiece of astronomical mechanism.


Position - 37.8301, 144.97486666666

The Great Melbourne telescope was a Cassegrain, being of a kind recommended by the Royal Society of England. The mirrors, two, being supplied, in case of accident, were four feet in diameter and made of speculum metal , four and a half inches thick, thirty feet six inches in focus, and resting in their giant mirror cell on Mr.Grubb's system of hoops; the whole system of suspension and levers weighed altogether nearly two tons .

In 1868 the completed telescope arrived in Australia, reaching Melbourne in November of that year; it was ready for work by the end of June 1869, and the observations commenced in August of the same year.
The Great Melbourne Telescope was for many years after 1869 employed in the revision of nebulae and clusters in the hope of recording any changes which may have occurred since the time of Sir John Herschel's observations of the same material at the Cape of Good Hope in the years 1834-38.
The G.M.T. was exposed to the sky during observations and the slightest wind made observing difficult with the high focal ratios from the cassegrain system. While photography was almost impossible, drawings arrived in Melbourne for a dome from Mr.Grubb but were never used.

The (then) 48" telescope at the Old Melbourne Observatory last Century was relocated to Mount Stromlo Observatory in 1945 and extensively modified. Complete refurbishment after 1990 enabled the 50" telescope (along with highly sophisticated CCD camera equipment and software) to be an integral part of the search for Massive Compact Halo Objects (MACHO's)
Great Melbourne Telescope was unfortunately destroyed with other Telescopes during the bush fires of January 2003

Melbourne Observatory is located in the Royal Botanical Gardens.

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