A consultancy and project management service for Sunshine Coast Schools

We can build an Observatory for your School

Your school community has immense pride in your School, its students, staff, curriculum, buildings and amenities. May I suggest that you consider something extra for your campus, an innovation which few schools have, which would definitely provide benefits for your school and its people?

To add extra zest and interest to your science courses, have you ever considered having a domed astronomical observatory constructed at your school? Such a project would place a highly-visible iconic building in your grounds. The high Australian dollar, the availability of locally-designed buildings, and the reasonable prices of high-quality computer-controlled telescopes has brought such facilities from the world of fantasy into the realm of affordability.

Astronomy is the most ancient of the sciences, and ties together physics, chemistry, biology, zoology and environmental studies. It is still the great imponderable, and few people can look at the sky on a dark, moonless night in the country without being awe-struck. The first view of Saturn through a good telescope is inspirational. The issue of light pollution has now been solved by current technology, and quality astronomical photographs have even been taken from driveways in New York City and suburbs of Sydney.

A computerised telescope of useful aperture (254 mm and up) in a small domed building could be up and running for less than many people might think. You could have change left from $ 20 000. A larger facility with a 16 inch aperture telescope capable of excellent quality viewing and imaging could be had for less than $ 40 000.

Such telescopes would be able to be used by students from Year 4 to adult, for the computer software employed enables the user to locate the Moon, planets, stars, clusters, nebulae, and galaxies at any time or date by a couple of mouse clicks. The telescope automatically slews to the object and tracks it as it moves across the sky. All the operator has to do is to look in the eyepiece or take the picture. As the database holds millions of objects, the older student can hunt down planetary nebulae, colliding galaxies and quasars as well. Some solar system objects can even be observed in daylight hours.

Inexpensive webcam technology can enable teachers and students to video the brighter sky objects in real time, for later viewing and study on a television or computer monitor. Also, the video stream can be easily processed by Registax software to reveal wonderful still colour pictures of the Moon and planets with remarkable clarity, as seen in our Image Gallery. These can be printed for classroom or assignment use, or emailed to home or other schools, or placed on your school website. To make the facility fully robotic, and accessible by students at night from their home computers over the internet, is quite feasible and affordable.

The end result of building such an observatory would be to have an innovative facility available to every student and staff member, and their families. It would be highly visible confirmation of the school’s commitment to scientific excellence, as a school orchestra is a symbol of musical excellence. It could be hired out for the use of special interest groups, amateur astronomers, school families and individuals, and so earn its keep.


Starfield Observatory of Nambour offers a consultancy and project management service

 for installing such a facility at your school with no concerns on your part.


All that your school would be required to do is to choose a site and provide underground electric power. If desired, you could have data and security cabling installed in the same trench. Starfield Observatory would look after everything else until handover of the keys, whereupon you could hold a ‘First Light’ celebration or official opening.

We can:

  • help you decide what is the best facility for your school, with regard to the uses to which it would be put and budgetary constraints – we would assist you to get the best value for your money;
  • design and build your observatory, using either a Sirius dome or an Astrodome (both types are used by professional observatories);
  • supply the telescope, its mount and pier;
  • commission the telescope and its ancillary equipment (install it, set it up and align it accurately with the Earth’s axis for precision operation);
  • set up the associated hardware and software for full computer control;
  • train interested staff members and students in its operation.

A period of cost-free maintenance is included.


Beginners’ courses in astronomy can be conducted if required, and more advanced courses for those who would like to take their expertise to higher levels. These courses can be run over periods of six to eight weeks and are optional extras.

The two most important qualities in a telescope are the perfection of the optics and the precision of the mount. We recommend telescopes of the Ritchey Chrétien Schmidt-Cassegrain design. This uses a light path folded on itself three times, resulting in a short, stubby optical tube assembly, which has the advantage of being less prone to vibration and instability than a longer instrument. The Schmidt-Cassegrain has a sealed tube, which keeps the mirrors free from dust and damage from air pollution or salt air. If funds permit, a telescope made by Ritchey Chrétien Optical Systems offers professional performance.


Starfield Observatory can arrange a visit to your School to discuss your requirements, and visits to our Observatory
can be arranged for your teachers to demonstrate the possibilities of such a project for your School.



It is indeed a feeble light that reaches us from the starry sky. But what would human thought have achieved if we could not see the stars ?

--- Jean Perrin, French physicist and winner of the 1926 Nobel Prize for Physics



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