Skip to content Skip to main navigation

News

Recruiting experts in
Accountancy & Finance

Mt Stromlo centre so good even aliens will visit

By Charlotte Harper - 12 September 2016 8

Mt Stromlo

ANU Vice-Chancellor and Nobel Prize-winning astrophysicist Brian Schmidt accidentally described the Mt Stromlo Cafe and Visitor Centre as a resource for “interstellar guests” today, distracting attendees at the venue’s re-opening from the glorious views, Questacon-style exhibits and Lonsdale St Roasters coffee, but only for a moment.

The launch today was the final stage in the renewal of the Mount Stromlo site, home to the most advanced space science institution in Australia, after the 2003 Canberra bushfires that destroyed many of the Observatory’s telescopes and historic buildings.

“The Visitor Centre is ultimately a resource for Canberra, but also for the nation, and so, interstellar guests will be …” Professor Schmidt said, having meant to say “interstate”.

He blushed then moved on to describe the facility as a “showcase for astronomy done across this nation and the work of course that we do at the ANU”.

The Vice-Chancellor, whose Nobel Prize-winning research was conducted from Mount Stromlo, said the centre would become an icon of Canberra culture.

“This is a beautiful place,” he said.

“We do great things here, but this is also a beautiful locale … to share the view of the Murrumbidgee … of the Brindabellas … and what we’re hoping is going to be a great cup of coffee, which we’ve been sadly waiting for for many, many years up here.”

Southern Cross Stromlo Cafe

Lonsdale Street Roasters are supplying the beans and overseeing the coffee machine in the Southern Cross Stromlo Cafe, which is, as the name suggests, being operated as an eatery/functions centre/event space by the Southern Cross Club.

What a venue. The views must be among the best in Canberra. A visit to the balcony is will take your breath away. Look out for the kangaroos and birdlife on show below.

Mt Stromlo view

Take a walk 100m down the road and step into the atmospheric ruins of the Yale Columbia Telescope destroyed in the 2003 firestorm. The dome is gone and the site will never function as it once did, but you’ll be hard pressed to find a more spectacular place to stop and ponder life, the universe and everything. The acoustics are incredible, too.

Yale Columbia Telescope ruins at Mt Stromlo

With Canberra’s brightly lit suburbs getting ever closer to Mt Stromlo, all night observing is now done at its sister campus Siding Spring, near Coonabarabran in north western NSW, or at advanced telescopes around the world.

Less breathtaking but no doubt a breath of fresh air for the workers and many cyclists who visit is the cafe’s menu, which features pizzas, lasagne, frittata, egg and Pialligo bacon roll, Tassie thick cut chips gourmet sandwiches, panini, baguettes and fresh salads.

Coffee excitement aside, Professor Schmidt believes the centre will help the rest of us to better understand the work the ANU does at Mt Stromlo and Siding Spring.

“People can use real SkyMapper telescope data called Snapshot Supernova to look for exploding stars which we will use to understand the expansion of the Universe and dark energy,” he said.

Astrozone

The centre will immediately land on Canberra families’ weekend outing list with its Questacon-style interactive astronomy exhibits, including one that replicates flying into a wormhole in space (it looks like a trampoline with lots of brightly coloured balls orbiting each other), a seismometer that will register a reading if children stomp hard enough, a series of actual meteorites, a computer game that allows users to destroy space debris orbiting the earth, and a heliostat for observing a live spectrum of the sun (pictured immediately below).

Heliostat

Dr Brad Tucker from ANU Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics said the centre’s exhibits were designed to inspire the next generation of astronomers and astrophysicists.

“Our heliostat, which is a sun mirror rebuilt from one of Mount Stromlo’s first telescopes, will allow people to see sunspots, solar flares and other elements on the Sun,” Dr Tucker said.

“Video animations will recreate black holes and a wormhole near Saturn. The animations were done by Double Negative, known for their work on the film Interstellar. Custom-made animations and video games at the centre show how we are trying to solve the human-made space debris problem.

Wormhole exhibit in Astrozone

“We also show how we detect gravitational waves with a small-scale interferometer.”

A new ANU Space App, which people can use at Mount Stromlo and Siding Spring, features animations of some of the exhibits and virtual tours of telescopes at Siding Spring and laboratories at Mount Stromlo.

What’s Your opinion?


Post a comment
Please login to post your comments, or connect with
8 Responses to
Mt Stromlo centre so good even aliens will visit
HiddenDragon 4:58 pm 15 Sep 16

“but this is also a beautiful locale … to share the view of the Murrumbidgee … of the Brindabellas”

The contrast to the urban development, nearby on one side, and the stirringly beautiful views on the other, make it a great place to take visitors – particularly if it happens to be on a day like this, when the Wuthering Heights weather perfectly complements the dark mystery of those views.

dungfungus 8:55 pm 13 Sep 16

Charlotte Harper said :

John Moulis said :

Paul Costigan said :

Charlotte, your image of the cafe (and those elsewhere online) have no people in it – and it is being reported as ‘it will be welcomed’. Did you notice if it was open yet for business?

Doesn’t look like Southern Cross will maintain it as the cyclist’s café it was before. A pity about that. The old café had a unique appeal to MTB riders and a good vibe and atmosphere and it would be a pity to see that go and be replaced by another Southern Cross club bistro and function centre.

I think they’re very much targeting cyclists still. The guy making the coffee yesterday said he is a regular cyclist visitor which was one of the reasons he was keen to get good coffee in there..

Doesn’t anyone drink tea these days?

bigred 8:09 pm 13 Sep 16

I visited today and enjoyed my free coffee and the views. They have done a fantadtic job and I plan to go up there next week on my mountain bike. Saw no impediments.

Charlotte Harper 10:18 am 13 Sep 16

John Moulis said :

Paul Costigan said :

Charlotte, your image of the cafe (and those elsewhere online) have no people in it – and it is being reported as ‘it will be welcomed’. Did you notice if it was open yet for business?

Doesn’t look like Southern Cross will maintain it as the cyclist’s café it was before. A pity about that. The old café had a unique appeal to MTB riders and a good vibe and atmosphere and it would be a pity to see that go and be replaced by another Southern Cross club bistro and function centre.

I think they’re very much targeting cyclists still. The guy making the coffee yesterday said he is a regular cyclist visitor which was one of the reasons he was keen to get good coffee in there..

Charlotte Harper 10:15 am 13 Sep 16

Paul Costigan said :

Charlotte, your image of the cafe (and those elsewhere online) have no people in it – and it is being reported as ‘it will be welcomed’. Did you notice if it was open yet for business?

It was empty because I was the first one in after the ribbon cutting. It’s my understanding the cafe is now open.

Paul Costigan 10:00 am 13 Sep 16

Maybe Professor Schmidt thinks that there is more kudos in interstellar visitors. And then there will be their marketing of the site up there on that hilltop for us humans to have that “Close Encounters” experience as you share the cafe with interstellar guests (can you spot which ones are the interstellar guests?). Do interstellar guests pay for parking?

John Moulis 9:42 am 13 Sep 16

Paul Costigan said :

Charlotte, your image of the cafe (and those elsewhere online) have no people in it – and it is being reported as ‘it will be welcomed’. Did you notice if it was open yet for business?

Doesn’t look like Southern Cross will maintain it as the cyclist’s café it was before. A pity about that. The old café had a unique appeal to MTB riders and a good vibe and atmosphere and it would be a pity to see that go and be replaced by another Southern Cross club bistro and function centre.

Paul Costigan 7:56 am 13 Sep 16

Charlotte, your image of the cafe (and those elsewhere online) have no people in it – and it is being reported as ‘it will be welcomed’. Did you notice if it was open yet for business?

Related Articles

CBR Tweets

Sign up to our newsletter

Top
Copyright © 2017 Riot ACT Holdings Pty Ltd. All rights reserved.
www.the-riotact.com | www.b2bmagazine.com.au | www.thisiscanberra.com

Search across the site