Rob Johnson

Rob Johnson


    Centenary funds kick-start new astronomy centre for Western Australia

    9/11/2000 10:05 AM

    Western Australia will soon be home to the Southern Hemisphere’s largest public astronomy centre.

    Citizenship and Multicultural Interests Minister Rob Johnson today handed $200,000 to the Gravity Discovery Centre Foundation Inc, which will build the facility at Gingin.

    The money was allocated from the State Government’s $3.5 million fund for projects to herald the Centenary of Federation in 2001.

    Once completed, the Southern Cross Cosmos Centre will feature six telescopes, including the biggest optical telescope in WA.

    Most of the telescopes will be computer controlled.

    More than 100,000 people are expected to visit the centre each year, making it a major public and tourist facility for WA.

    “Star-gazers will have access to state-of-the-art facilities with the construction of the centre,” Mr Johnson said.

    “It will incorporate the largest public astronomy centre in the Southern Hemisphere and the Centenary of Federation Cosmology Courtyard, featuring Nyungar and scientific cosmology on giant murals.”

    The centre will stand alongside Gingin’s Gravitational Wave Observatory, which was opened earlier this year by Premier Richard Court.

    The observatory is at the forefront of scientific research into black holes, gravitational waves and astro-physics.

    One of the people spearheading the Cosmos Centre project, physics Professor David Blair from the University of WA, said the presence of the observatory and its links to similar facilities around the world would provide a fantastic resource for young people, science education and the general public.

    “The centre is part of a bigger vision to create a Gravity Discovery Centre which will promote science and innovation in the context of a spectacular, pristine environment,” Professor Blair said.

    “It will also create links with the observatory where real science is taking place.”

    Professor Blair said a unique aspect of the project was the emphasis on Aboriginal astronomy.

    He said Western astronomy concentrated on bright areas of the night sky - the stars - whereas Aboriginal astronomy gave the same importance to the dark areas of the sky.

    Media contacts:

    Fran Hodge (08) 9215 4800
    Professor David Blair 0409 687 703