Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mk II
Lens: Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM
Exposure: 5 exposures (-2,-1,0,2 EV)
Focal Length: 16mm
ISO Speed: 100
Accessories: Manfrotto 190XB Tripod, Manfrotto 322RC2 Heavy Duty Grip Ball Head, Canon RC1 Wireless Remote
Date and Time: 15 January 2011 8.34pm
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<i>The Parkes Radiothermal Telescope, completed in 1961, was the brainchild of E.G. (Taffy) Bowen, chief of the CSIRO’s Radiophysics Laboratory. During the Second World War, he had worked on radar development in the US and had made some powerful friends in the scientific community. Calling on this old boy network, he persuaded two philanthropic organisations, the Carnegie Corporation and the Rockefeller Foundation to fund half the cost of the telescope. It was this recognition and key financial support from the US that persuaded then Prime Minister Robert Menzies to agree to fund the rest of the project.
The primary observing instrument is the 64-metre movable dish telescope, second largest in the Southern Hemisphere, and one of the first large movable dishes in the world (DSS-43 ‘Deep Space Station’-43 at Tidbinbilla was extended from 64 m to 70 m in 1987, surpassing Parkes). After its completion it has operated almost continuously to the present day. The dish surface was physically upgraded by adding smooth metal plates to the central part to provide focusing capability for centimetre and millimetre length microwaves. The outer part of the dish remains a fine metal mesh, creating its distinctive two-tone appearance.
The 18m dish antenna in the foreground of the photo was transferred from the Fleurs Observatory (Mills Cross) in 1963. It was used as a transmit uplink antenna in the Apollo program and has been abandoned since the early 1980s.
The telescope has an altazimuth mount. It is guided by a small mock-telescope placed within the structure at the same rotational axes as the dish, but with an equatorial mount. The two are dynamically locked when tracking an astronomical object by a laser guiding system. This primary-secondary approach was designed by Barnes Wallis.
The success of the Parkes telescope led NASA to copy the basic design in their Deep Space Network, with matching 64 m dishes built at Goldstone, Madrid and Tidbinbilla.