Perched on one of the highest points in the city, Observatory Hill’s spectacular vantage point overlooks a wide, panoramic stretch of Sydney Harbour. Built in the late 1850s, the Italianate, sandstone Sydney Observatory, with its distinctive copper telescope domes is set amid a beautiful recreation of the original formal Colonial era gardens.
The heritage-listed building houses three telescopes, including the oldest working telescope in Australia, built in 1874 to observe the transit of Venus. In addition to the telescopes, which are available for public use during the daily guided tours, the observatory features museum exhibits with an amazing collection of vintage instruments, artefacts and photographs, and display rooms explaining the history of astronomy in Australia, including a fascinating look at the ancient indigenous knowledge of the skies.
The Observatory itself runs both night and day tours, giving visitors a chance to observe the stars up close, accompanied by astronomical experts. By night (weather conditions permitting) you’ll be able to gaze up in wonder at a nebula, the constellations, the moon and the planets.
Space exploration is possible during the day too. Using the special solar telescope in the courtyard, you can safely look into the sun itself, and on clear days, spot the brighter stars, and perhaps even the moon or Venus.
You can also check out amazing imagery and interactive content in three eye-popping dimensions at the 3D Space Theatre (an especially good activity for the kids). Witness constellations being mapped out before your eyes and the progression of the night sky from dawn to dusk in high speed, while comfortably propped up on beanbags in the digital planetarium.