2020 has been a busy year for Perth Observatory's projects

The Perth Lowell Dome shutter is open again. Image Credit: Paul Wadham

The COVID-19 lockdown paused public activities at the Observatory for 13 weeks, and we used the rare peace and quiet to progress our various projects. The POVG is currently undertaking several projects, some as a result of our 2018 Lotterywest grant and others resourced by the POVG.

Possibly the largest project is the refurbishment of the Perth Observatory Museum, passing from the planning phase to construction. The basic layout is already near completion, the floor will be reinforced in January, new display stands are being fabricated, and all going well by the end of January/early February 2021 we’ll start packing and temporarily storing our museum artefacts while the new displays are installed, the final transformation is planned for March 2021.

Our maintenance team have been working on several significant repair and refurbishment projects. Restoration of the Lowell telescope dome, to get it rotating again after many years of quiet, has progressed steadily

By early 2021 we should see the Lowell Telescope return to Astronomy Research

The final transformation of our museum is planned for March 2021. Image Credit: Steve Parkins

Along with reinvigorated computing software and hardware, the dome is being carefully raised onto machined shims so that it can freely rotate. By early 2021 we should see the Lowell Telescope return to Astronomy Research, with Perth Observatory expanding into more research projects in the future. The Astrograph telescope is now ready for the next stage of its refurbishment, we have begun the planning stages for the information panels inside the dome that will document the history of this iconic part of the Observatory.

The Astrograph telescope’s dome is also receiving the same attention as the Lowell, and it too will soon be rotating once more. In other news, our new improved and expanded gravel car park is now completed and will be marked with parking bays once the “Design the car park” request to POVG members is judged and the design selected.

Our Shortt–Synchronome free pendulum clocks. Image Credit: Matt Woods

Perth Observatory’s Oral Histories project has also progressed well. Dr Janet Baldwin has completed the book, and printing and distribution will happen in the new year. Stay tuned for news of the book launch! Dr Baldwin has also been working on a fairy book for Perth Observatory, and in time it will lead to a Fairy Door Trail around the site as an extension to the Kalamunda Fairy Door Trail.

Our historical clock restoration continues with the help of the Tic Tok Doc facility in Kelmscott. Some timepieces are currently off-site and they’re expected to be ready for installing into the newly redeveloped museum soon.

The Paper-Based Records Preservation project continues progressing, and work on the Photographic Glass Plates Preservation project has performed better than expected. This project came in under budget and on time, and volunteers have continued scanning the supporting documentation for the Glass Plates.

One of our glass plate help up to a light. Image Credit: Zal Kanga-Parabia

The project for the restoration of the Catts Telescope, a historic 20-inch (50.8cm) Grubb reflector that came to Australia in 1928 and was subsequently housed in the Uni Dome is in its early stages, and the Mike Candy Telescope (also known as the Comet Hunter) has been on display in the observatory museum, pending refurbishment and recommencement.

Not bad for 2020, here’s to even more progress in 2021!