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Family day celebrating Melbourne Observatory’s 150th

The 150th anniversary of the Melbourne Observatory will be celebrated with an afternoon of fun family activities starting at 3pm tomorrow (Saturday 23 November) at the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne.

The anniversary will be marked by an historical re-enactment at 5pm in the presence of His Excellency the Honourable Alex Chernov AC QC, Governor of Victoria, who will unveil a plaque to mark the occasion. Dressed in period costume, appearances will also be made by the then Governor of the day Sir Henry Barkly and the Government Astronomer Robert Ellery who attended the Observatory’s opening in 1863.

Today the Melbourne Observatory is best known for its distinctive shaped buildings and the popular stargazing tours, but in the rapidly growing nineteenth century city of Melbourne, telling the time accurately was a major challenge. The Melbourne Observatory provided the time for a clock in Bourke Street as well as the clocks at Flinders and Spencer Street railway stations.

The celebrations will be held at the Observatory Plaza off Birdwood Ave, the main entrance to the Gardens, running from 3pm until 8pm, and will include:

  • Free guided tours of the Melbourne Observatory with the Astronomical Society of Victoria (ASV)
  • Viewing of the Sun and Alpha Centauri from a range of available telescopes, both new and historical
  • An historical re enactment with the unveiling of a commemorative plaque at 5pm
  • Children’s activities
  • Roving entertainers
  • The Infinity Dome: step inside an inflatable planetarium
  • Music performances


The celebrations have been organised by the Royal Botanic Gardens in conjunction with the Astronomical Society of Victoria. All activities are free except for the seminar on Australian Colonial Astronomy.

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