On Monday 25 May the Australian National University (ANU) announced the opening of the Sky Mapper telescope at Siding Spring Observatory near Coonabarabran in New South Wales. The telescope will be operated by ANU researchers at Canberra’s Mount Stromlo Observatory (the telescope is 700 kilometres from Mt Stromlo, but 1 gigabyte of data will be transmitted every 8 seconds via a fibre optic cable).
According to the announcement of the opening of the telescope:
The SkyMapper telescope will provide a deep digital map of the southern sky which will allow astronomers to study everything from nearby objects such as asteroids in our solar system to the most distant objects in the universe called quasars.
What I found fascinating is the desire to share this project with a global audience as part of the Australian Virtual Observatory Initiative. Once the telescope is operational data about the southern skies data will be available here.
This is a link to an ABC report of the opening. This is a background paper from 2003. A report about the project from Andrew Hendry in 2007 noted that: “this world-first information base will be made widely available, free of charge, to anyone who wants it”.
What makes this initiative so delightful is that the ANU’s Mount Stromlo Observatory was destroyed by fire on 18 January 2003.