The Great Melbourne Telescope

Dr Richard GillespieIn this lecture Dr Gillespie will reveal one of the great hidden stories of 19th Century Melbourne.  The Great Melbourne Telescope was erected at the Melbourne Observatory in 1869 and was the second largest telescope in the world.  For many Melburnians in the 1870s and 1880s the telescope was tangible evidence of Melbourne’s greatness and claim to being the leading metropolis of the southern hemisphere.

When Melbourne Observatory closed in 1945, the telescope was transferred to the Mount Stromlo Observatory in Canberra.  A further refurbishment of the telescope was planned when the firestorm that hit Canberra in January 2003 destroyed the telescopes. 

Now the Great Melbourne Telescope is about to embark on a new chapter in its history, with plans to restore and refurbish it for public and educational use, back home in its original building at Melbourne Observatory.  La Trobe University’s Department of Physics and the Centre for Materials and Surface Science are assisting in the restoration of the telescope.

Dr Gillespie trained as a historian of science at the University of Melbourne and University of Pennsylvania.  He has been a Fulbright Scholar, awarded a Mellon Fellowship, a Gordon Darling Fellowship and received the US ‘Henry Schuman Prize of the History of Science Society’. Dr Gillespie joined Museum Victoria in 1990 where he is currently the Head of the History and Technology Department.  He is the author of ‘The Great Melbourne Telescope’ and ‘Manufacturing Knowledge: A History of the Hawthorne Experiments’.

Interview/Photo Opportunity

What?  Dean’s Public Lecture 2011 - The Great Melbourne Telescope: Astronomy and the public understanding of science

When?  Wednesday 23 November 2011 6 pm  

Where?  Hooper Lecture Theatre, La Trobe University, Melbourne Campus

For more information please contact:

Lisa Prowling
Senior Marketing and Communications Officer, Faculty Science, Technology and Engineering
T (03) 9479 2199 E