CSIRO's Parkes radio telescope is a 64-m diameter parabolic dish used for radio astronomy. It is located about 20 km north of the town of Parkes, New South Wales (NSW), and about 380 km west of Sydney.
It is operated by CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science (CASS), a business unit of CSIRO. CASS also operates the Australia Telescope Compact Array near Narrabri, NSW, and the Mopra radio telescope near Coonabarabran, NSW, and is developing the Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP) telescope in Western Australia.
The telescope was built in 1961, but only its basic structure has remained unchanged. The surface, control system, focus cabin, receivers, computers and cabling have all been upgraded - some parts many times - to keep the telescope current.
The telescope is now ten thousand times more sensitive than when commissioned in 1961.
The Visitors Discovery Centre has many informative and interactive displays. The Theatre runs 1/2 hourly programs about radio telescope astronomy and the universe.
A typical group visit
Exploring the Astronomy and Space Science exhibition (Free)
This modern exhibition takes you on a journey exploring the highlights of the telescope's rich history. Starting as an idea in the 1950s, see how the Parkes radio telescope has matured into a world leading research facility.
This exhibition is designed to answer your questions about the telescope and its operation, but leave you pondering some of the big questions like; how big is the Universe and what is the Universe made of?
High definition 3D theatre
Produced by Swinburne University's Centre for Astrophysics and Super Computing, these animated features offer a glimpse into the vast complexity of our Universe.
AstroKids Scavenger Hunt
This fun activity leads students around the Parkes Observatory Visitors Discovery Centre seeking clues to solve a puzzle. The activity is suitable for students aged 7-14 years of age and takes about 30 minute to complete.
Introductory talk and Q&A session
All groups booking the 3D theatre and/or the AstroKids scavenger hunt receive an introductory talk on the Parkes telescope as well as a short Q & A session. This usually run for about 10–15 minutes.