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Foreword

Australian Astronomical Observatory has a perfect position to do research on the


constellations of the southern hemisphere. There were no large telescopes in the southern
hemisphere despite some of the most intriguing astronomical objects being best placed for
study from these latitudes. Astronomical observatory is able to capture incredible images
from outer space.This is a modern building in terms of equipment used in research.The
telescope is part of the Anglo-Australian Observatory which provides facilities for research in
optical astronomy for scientists for Britain and Australia.
During the post-war years,some major astronomical developments occured in Australia and
the Un ited Kingdom.The axploitation of the radio window in the earths atmosphere initiated
a revolution in astronomy which has continued with the advent of space reserch,opening up
the whole of the electromagnetic spectrum to astronomical observation.It is not surprising that
a heavy groundswell developed in each country in favour of buildings a large ,modern and
theoretical astronomers,as well as their optical colleagues.Anumber of options were
considered which ultimately converged on an Australian-United Kingdom agrement to build a
3,9 metre telescope on Siding Spring Mountain inNew South Wales,thereby giving the
aditional advantage of being able to study the relatively unexplored southern sky.The
telescope,named the Anglo-Australian Telescope,was inaugrated in 1974 by the Prince of
Wales.

Australian Astronomical Observatory

The Australian Astronomical Observatory (AAO), formerly the Anglo-Australian Observatory,


is an optical/near-infrared astronomy observatory with its headquarters in Marsfield in
suburban Sydney, Australia. Originally funded jointly by the United Kingdom and Australian
governments, it is now managed wholly by Australia's Department of Industry, Innovation,
Science, Research and Tertiary Education. The AAO operates the 3.9 metre Anglo-Australian
Telescope (AAT) and 1.2 metre UK Schmidt Telescope (UKST) at Siding Spring Observatory,
located near the town of Coonabarabran, Australia.
In addition to operating the two telescopes, AAO staff carry out astronomical research, as well as
design and build innovative astronomical instrumentation for the AAT, UKST, and other
telescopes including the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope in Chile, and
the Japanese Subaru Telescope on Mauna Kea inHawaii.
UK involvement in the AAO ceased in June 2010, with the change of name and management
arrangements effective from 1 July 2010.

History
In the years immediately after World War II optical observational astronomy in the UK was
toiling due to a lack of modern infrastructure. There were no large telescopes in the southern
hemisphere despite some of the most intriguing astronomical objects (e.g. the Galactic
Centre and the Magellanic Clouds) being best placed for study from these latitudes. In the
1950s Richard Woolley, Director of Mount Stromlo Observatory from 19391956
and Astronomer Royal from 19561971, suggested constructing a large telescope in Australia.

After a series of meetings between British and Australian scientists in the early 1960s to
discuss the technical specifications and begin the search for a suitable site for the proposed
telescope, a formal approach was made to the governments of both countries in July 1965. It
was finally agreed in April 1967 that the building of a 150" telescope, the Anglo-Australian
Telescope(AAT), should proceed. The telescope was to be located on Siding Spring
Mountain in the Warrumbungles, which was owned by the Australian National
University (ANU) and the site of some of their existing infra-structure.
Later that year an interim body known as the Joint Policy Committee, and including
prominent scientists Edward Bowen (Aus), Olin Eggen (Aus), Richard Woolley(UK) and Jim
Hosie (UK) was formed to oversee the early running of a project office which was located
in Canberra. The project office finalised designs and specifications for the telescope, the
mounting and the building and let contracts on a worldwide basis, exploiting the experience of
those staff members who were involved in the development and construction of the Parkes
radio telescope.
The Anglo-Australian Telescope Agreement was signed on 25 September 1969 and came into
effect on 22 February 1971. The Joint Policy Committee was replaced by the AngloAustralian Telescope Board (AATB), an entity with full legal status under Australian law
with responsibilities of overseeing the running of the telescope.
As construction of the AAT gathered pace, a heated debate ensued as to the details of the
management structure which would control the telescope. Then Director of Mount Stromlo
and Siding Spring Observatories, Olin Eggen and then Vice-Chancellor of the ANU, John
Crawford, claimed that the bi-national agreement did not provide for the creation of a separate
observatory. They argued that the telescope should ultimately be under the control of the
Director of Mount Stromlo and Siding Spring Observatories and that additional staff for the
new telescope should be provided by the ANU. However, fearing that they would be mere
guests rather than equal partners in the AAT, British astronomers, with support from
Australian state university astronomers, campaigned hard for a separate director and staff who
were employed by and answerable only to the AATB. The matter was not settled until June
1973 when the Australian government endorsed the AATBs decision for an independent staff,
marking the birth of the Anglo-Australian Observatory. The first Director, Joe Wampler, took
up his post in September 1974. To date there have been five Directors.

Construction of the Anglo-Australian


Telescope

In late-1967 the contract for the primary mirror blank was awarded to Owens-Illinois Inc., USA
and the 27.5 ton structure was cast from zero-expansion Cervit glass in April 1969. The blank
was shipped to Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England to be figured and polished by Sir Howard Grubb,
Parsons and Co. Ltd. The final product has a diameter of 3.9m and a focal length of 12.7m.
Construction of the building and dome, undertaken by the Australian companies Leighton
Constructions and Evans-Deakin Industries respectively, began in late-1970 and was completed
by the end of 1972. The building was manufactured from concrete, stands 26m high and has
seven floors housing offices, labs and a mirror aluminising chamber. The telescope stands on a
concrete pier with is a separate foundation to the main building, to reduce the risk of vibrations.
The double skinned dome is manufactured from both steel and aluminium and weighs 570
tonnes.
The telescope is mounted equatorially, loosely following the design of the 4m Kitt Peak National
Observatory telescope. The mount was manufactured in Muroran,Japan by Mitsubishi Electric. It
was shipped to Australia in early 1973 before being assembled at Siding Spring Mountain in April
of that year. The telescope drive system was also produced by Mitsubishi Electric and delivered
at this time. It was one of the first to be controlled by computer, an Interdata Model 70, and
provided new levels of pointing and tracking precision. Assembly of the AAT was completed by
1974 and commissioning of the telescope began in April of that year. In total it took approximately
8 years to build at a cost of A$16 million. It was inaugurated by HRH Prince Charles on 16
October 1974 and went into general use in June 1975.

Outline of work undertaken with the


AAT

The AAO has undertaken pioneering work on the use of optical fibres in astronomy for over
25 years. Instruments such as AAOmega and its predecessor 2dF, use optical fibres to feed the
light of stars and galaxies from the focal plane of the telescope (i.e. where it forms an image
of the night sky) into a spectrograph where it is smeared out into its component colours for
detailed subsequent analysis. The broad field-of-view accessed by the 2dF and AAOmega
instruments (4 times the width of the moon) and their 400 optical fibres, makes it feasible to
spectroscopically survey large numbers of objects distributed across expansive areas of sky in
a reasonable time frame.
A number of major studies undertaken with the AAT have exploited these capabilities.
The 2dF Galaxy Redshift Survey (2dFGRS) used the 2dF instrument to obtain spectra
and redshifts for ~250000 galaxies brighter than B~19.5 over ~7% of the southern sky in only
~270 nights. The 2dFGRS sample size was an order of magnitude greater than those of
previous surveys, allowing a rigorous evaluation of cosmological parameters. For example,
the survey has refined estimates of the mass density of the Universe, provided a determination
of the fraction of baryonic (i.e. normal) matter in the Universe and set an upper limit on the
total mass of neutrinos. In addition 2dFGRS yielded an independent estimate of the Hubble
constant, which was in excellent agreement with value determined by the Hubble Space
Telescope Key Project.
The ongoing WiggleZ project is using the AAT and AAOmega to measure the redshifts of
~200000 distant luminous blue star forming galaxies distributed over an area of ~5000 times
the area of the moon. The primary goal of this study is to use an intrinsic feature in the
distribution of galaxies as a "standard ruler" to relate distance to redshift and improve our
knowledge of the nature of dark energy. This mysterious component of the Universe appears
to be responsible for accelerating its rate of expansion.
Another current AAOmega based survey on the AAT, Galaxy and Mass Assembly (GAMA),
is in the process of obtaining optical spectroscopy for ~250000 galaxies in the Local
Universe. The AAOmega data will be used in conjunction with observations from satellite
observatories (e.g. Herschel Space Observatory) and other telescopes around the world (e.g.
the European Southern Observatory's Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope, VISTA) to
critically examine the predictions of the Cold Dark Matter standard cosmological model e.g.
the relationship between the number density of dark matter halos and their masses and the
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relationship between the number density of galaxies and their masses as determined through
studying their starlight.
The AAT also hosts an ongoing program to search for extrasolar planets, the AngloAustralian Planet Search (AAPS). The AAPS exploits the high stability of the University
College of London Echelle Spectrograph (UCLES) to obtain the few meters per second
precision in measurements of the radial (line-of-sight) velocities of stars necessary to detect
the reflex Doppler motion induced by the presence of a planet. To date the AAPS has found
more than 20 extrasolar planets, with masses ranging from ~10% to > 10 times that of Jupiter.

The Schmidt Telescope

The 1.2m UK Schmidt Telescope was built to complement the AAT and officially began
operations in August 1973. It was designed for survey astronomy, having an extremely large fieldof-view which is more than 12 times the apparent diameter of the moon. The telescope was
operated by the Schmidt Telescope Unit of the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh until 1988, when it
was agreed that control would be handed over to the AAO. The Schmidt has undertaken much
notable work, including blue and red photographic surveys of the southern sky and the 6dF
Galaxy Survey. AAO Its multi-object spectroscopic capability is currently being exploited to
perform the Radial Velocity Experiment (RAVE) survey.

Conclusion
The Anglo-Australian Observatory, is an optical/near-infrared astronomy observatory with its
headquarters in Marsfield in suburban Sydney, Australia. Originally funded jointly by the United
Kingdom and Australian governments, it is now managed wholly by Australia's Department of
Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education. After a series of meetings

between British and Australian scientists in the early 1960s to discuss the technical
specifications and begin the search for a suitable site for the proposed telescope, a formal
approach was made to the governments of both countries in July 1965. It was finally agreed in
April 1967 that the building of a 150" telescope, the Anglo-Australian Telescope(AAT),
should proceed. Construction of the building and dome, undertaken by the Australian
companies Leighton Constructions and Evans-Deakin Industries respectively, began in late-1970
and was completed by the end of 1972. The building was manufactured from concrete, stands
26m high and has seven floors housing offices, labs and a mirror aluminising chamber. The
telescope stands on a concrete pier with is a separate foundation to the main building, to reduce
the risk of vibrations. The double skinned dome is manufactured from both steel and aluminium
and weighs 570 tonnes. The AAOmega data will be used in conjunction with observations

from satellite observatories (e.g. Herschel Space Observatory) and other telescopes around the
world (e.g. the European Southern Observatory's Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope,
VISTA) to critically examine the predictions of the Cold Dark Matter standard cosmological
model e.g. the relationship between the number density of dark matter halos and their masses
and the relationship between the number density of galaxies and their masses as determined
through studying their starlight.