Lagoon nebula

Mt Wilson Viewing Nights


In association with our Modern Astronomy courses we organise nights in the Blue Mountains Mountains where we will use a variety of telescopes to observe the night sky. They are held at Mount Wilson in order to escape some of the light pollution so evident in Sydney. This may seem a long way to go, but it makes all the difference in observing faint deep sky objects.

You need to get yourself there, which means driving or finding someone else who wants to go and will drive. Mount Wilson is about 8 km off the Bells Line of Road (see the general map below). It may be reached from Richmond via the Bells Line of Road. This road is steep up Bellbird hill at Kurrajong and a winding, single lane road for much of the distance from there. It is a good road with lots of reflectors for night driving and has very pleasant scenery. Alternatively, you can drive to Katoomba on the Great Western Highway - generally a better road - and then continue through Blackheath to Mount Victoria. There you turn right towards Bell and then right again when you strike the Bells Line of Road.

general map

The trip on the Bell road takes a little over two hours from central Sydney. The observing site is in an open picnic area, opposite the Cathedral of Ferns (see the more detailed map below).

detailed map

You should bring warm clothes (it can be very cold!) and your own food and drink. Toilet facilities (non-flushing) are available on site. Bring you own barbecue if you want it, but there will be an open wood fire to help keep warm. Bring a sleeping bag and tent if you intend to stay overnight. Some people will camp overnight, others stay in Mt Wilson or at Mount Victoria, Blackheath or Katoomba, whilst many will drive home that night.

The intention is to have dinner over before it is dark - say about 6.30 pm - to allow observing to commence. You can, of course, arrive whenever you wish, but personally I will be there about two hours before then. I encourage you to errive early and make a social outing of the trip (socialising is harder in the dark!). Mt Wilson is famous for its gardens, so you may wish to visit them during the day. If you arrive after dark, please use you car headlights sparingly when approaching the telescopes as the bright lights ruin an observer's dark-adapted vision.

Anyone you would like to bring is most welcome! Also, if you have a telescope or binoculars (no matter how modest), please bring them too!

The trip will go ahead unless the weather is very poor in Sydney since it is often clear in the mountains when it is cloudy or even raining in the city. If in any doubt on the day, I can be contacted on 0448 050407, preferably before 4 pm since mobile coverage is unreliable at Mt Wilson.

For more information contact

Dr John O'Byrne

Associate Professor
School of Physics,
The University of Sydney.

School of Physics
University of Sydney
NSW 2006
Phone: +61-2-9351-3184
Fax: +61-2-9351-7726

For information about other Astronomy Courses at the University of Sydney, look at Astronomy@Sydney

For information on all aspects of Astronomy in Australia the Astronomical Society of Australia provides the Australian Astronomy web site, featuring extensive links to astronomical research and teaching, public education facilities, amateur astronomy and other astronomical activities in Australia.

School of Physics

The University of Sydney

Centre for Continuing Education

Last modified on 18 March, 2018.
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