23 May 2006

Big 'scope in Murchison?

Looks like Aus is bidding for the Giant Magellan Telescope and would site it officially in the Murchison region if they/we win the bid.

Compared with Perth, that’s half-a-day into the bush. Still, it sounds reasonably close... until one discovers that some sensors attached to this 21m ’scope may be as far away as New Zealand.

Reading between the lines of what I was told at Bickley Observatory a year or so ago, the people who run that facility in some way knew that something like this was written into their future, although the words used for the location weren’t as precise as “The Murchison”.

Aside from being locallish, The Murchison would be well-equipped to support such a scope, because as well as many facilities for industry and mining, and being radio-ly quiet it is also optically “quiet” (and dryish weather) so would be an excellent place for a combined optical/radio facility. There's also a ground-monitoring facility set up a little way in that general direction; perhaps the facilities could be linked to do Earth-interactive observations?

Will it happen? We're staying tuned — as it were — to find out.

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