Built in 1858, Sydney Observatory is Australia’s oldest observatory, and one of the most significant sites in the nation’s scientific history. It is recognised as an item of ‘state significance’ by the New South Wales Government and is heritage listed.
In the 19th and early 20th centuries, the Observatory was essential to shipping, navigation, meteorology and timekeeping as well as to the study of the stars seen from the Southern Hemisphere. The Government Astronomers worked and lived in the building until 1982* when Sydney Observatory became part of the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences.
Today the Observatory is a museum and public observatory with an important role in astronomy education and public telescope viewing. It contains an 1874 29cm lens telescope, a 42cm computer-controlled telescope and a hydrogen-alpha solar telescope, able to be viewed through by visitors during booked sessions. There are also a virtual reality 3-D space theatre, exhibitions about astronomy, meteorology and the history of Sydney Observatory, beanbag planetarium, lecture theatrette, souvenir shop and beautiful gardens.
Sydney Observatory is located near the historic Rocks district and the world-famous Sydney Harbour Bridge, and is easily accessed by bus, train, ferry or car.
* The NSW Government Astronomers who lived (with their families) and worked at Sydney Observatory were:
William Scott 1858 – 1862
G R Smalley 1864 – 1870
H C Russell 1870 – 1907
H A Lenehan 1907 – 1908
W E Raymond 1908 – 1912
W E Cooke 1912 – 1926
J Nangle 1926 – 1941
Harley Wood 1943 – 1974
W H Robertson 1975 – 1982
“We stayed at the Harbour Rocks at the beginning of our trip to Sydney and loved everything about it- we learned later that it was the first hospital in Sydney, so it had a lot of character and was a perfect little boutique hotel in an incredible location in The Rocks. The views of the opera house and Harbour Bridge were just a bonus in this quaint little place and will definitely recommend it and go back myself.”