Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne manages the site of the Melbourne Observatory and works closely with the Astronomical Society of Victoria to maintain this historical site and provide regular public tours.
See our Night Sky video to find out more about the Melbourne Observatory and the range of tours available.
The Melbourne Observatory was constructed in 1861–63, and expanded until 1902 to eventually comprise 22 rooms. Far from only stargazing, the Observatory staff provided critical scientific data essential for the smooth running of industries ranging from shipping to farming and city business to politics.
The Observatory was the home for weather forecasting, time setting, setting weights and measures standards and for the surveying of Victoria. The distinctive shapes of the buildings, built and added to between 1861 and 1902, topped by sliding domes and opening roof structures evoke immediate recognition of their functions as devices for tracking and charting stars, watching the weather and keeping time.
Much of the historic equipment used when the Observatory was fully operational is preserved and still used for observing the southern night sky. Experienced guides from the Astronomical Society of Victoria host regular tours in the Melbourne Observatory buildings.
Visit our What’s On page for bookings and more information.
Please note that the Observatory is only open for tours and not for general visits. Tours are conducted at night and are not suitable for wheelchairs due to narrow entrances and staircases.
Observatory tours will not be cancelled due to overcast or inclement weather conditions. Your guide will conduct an informative tour although the use of telescopes for observation in these conditions will not occur. Please provide at least 24 hours notice if you wish to cancel your booking.
The Astronomical Society of Victoria is a volunteer organisation for astronomy enthusiasts.