- Charles Sturt University joins Lockhart Shire Council and The Rock Progress Association in development of observatory
- Charles Sturt identified as a suitable project partner as the pre-eminent tertiary institution in the region
- New observatory to be used for education, research, visitors and tourists
Charles Sturt University (Charles Sturt) is collaborating with Lockhart Shire Council and The Rock Progress Association to develop an astronomical observatory on Crown land at The Rock, near Wagga Wagga.
The Rock Regional Observatory is intended to be used for education and research activities, as well as for visitors and tourists.
Funding has been secured from the NSW Government for the construction of a building to accommodate a telescope and related astronomical equipment, as well as an educational space or lecture theatre.
Executive Officer of the Charles Sturt Faculty of Science Mr Peter Ryall said, “We thank Lockhart Shire Council and The Rock Progress Association for inviting Charles Sturt to join the project.
“The Observatory will be a wonderful educational and research resource for both the regional community and the University.
“We congratulate them for securing funding for a building to house the telescope (an Optimised Dall-Kirkhams ODK16) and related facilities.
“Charles Sturt was identified as a suitable partner for this project due to the project’s educational component and the University’s status as the pre-eminent tertiary institution in the region.”
The University also provides access to a telescope and other astronomical equipment.
“It is significant that Lockhart Shire Council and The Rock Progress Association have access to a suitable site, free of light pollution, and in relatively close proximity to Charles Sturt in Wagga Wagga,” Mr Ryall said.
“Furthermore, the proposed site is Crown land and as such carries none of the risks associated with privately owned land, so it cannot be sold or otherwise disposed of.”
Lockhart Shire Mayor Councillor Rodger Schirmer welcomed the collaboration with Charles Sturt, saying it made good sense for Lockhart Council and the University to work together.
“We’re very pleased the University has recently joined the initiative and will be providing astronomical equipment and expertise,” Councillor Schirmer said.
“The project has the potential to become a major regional tourist attraction and an educational facility for school-age students, university students and researchers, members of the University of the Third Age, members of adult education classes, as well members of cultural and social clubs.
“Plans and specifications are now being prepared for a building to house the telescope, as well as for a suitable educational space.”
President of The Rock Progress Association Ms Traci Driscoll said, “The Rock Regional Observatory is delighted to partner with Charles Sturt University to deliver a wonderful opportunity for education within our region, as well as a facility to promote community interest in astronomy.
“The Rock Progress Association commenced planning for this facility in 2017 with a grant from the NSW Government.
“Charles Sturt University’s involvement will ensure sustainability for the future of the observatory.
“Our association and Lockhart Shire Council look forward with excitement to the partnership and what we can offer the wider region.”
The Rock Progress Association secured $100,000 funding under the Community Building Partnership (CBP) Program administered by the NSW Department of Family and Community Services.
The Lockhart Shire Council subsequently secured $100,000 funding under the Stronger Country Community Fund (SCCF) Program administered by the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet.Construction of the project facilities is intended to be completed by the end of October 2020.