Between 1985 and 2007, the Canberra Tradesmen's Union Club (the Tradies) developed and supported the Canberra Space Dome (Planetarium) and Observatory (CSDO) in Dickson. Unique in the ACT and surrounding areas, it was a very significant astronomy education centre and was heavily used by many school groups.
However, in January 2008, the Tradies decided to close the CSDO and offered to give the equipment to any organisation that would relocate the equipment to another site and operate it for public use.
In order to assist the relocation of the CSDO equipment to an appropriate organisation, some Canberra citizens formed the Planetarium and Observatory Association of Canberra, Inc (POAC). POAC's official aim is to facilitate the continued existence of a planetarium and observatory, in Canberra or the surrounding areas, for public education and raising awareness of astronomy in the general community. Membership is open to anyone who wishes to demonstrate, by joining the Association, that they support that aim.
POAC feels that this is particularly important in the national capital as we head towards the International Year of Astronomy 2009, with its vision "to help the citizens of the world rediscover their place in the universe through the day and night time sky, and thereby engage a personal sense of wonder and discovery." Planetariums have an important role to fill in that task, as they allow that sense of wonder to be engaged regardless of daylight and weather conditions.
Our association has been busy. Through our efforts, the ANU's Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics have agreed that the planetarium and observatory equipment be relocated to Mt Stromlo. This will be the first step in a phased plan for Mt Stromlo to have a world leading public outreach facility as envisioned by the Director, Professor Harvey Butcher. At the moment, with the contribution of seed funding from both TransACT and the ACT Government, an engineering assessment is underway to determine the options for relocating the facility, and the costs and risks associated with each option. When this is done, we will approach governments and industry to secure the level of funding necessary for this project to succeed.
POAC is keen to recruit new members so that we can show the level of public support for a planetarium and observatory in Canberra. Joining costs $5 and carries no obligations. Email updates will be sent out to notify members of progress made. Please contact our Secretary, Michael Nelmes via email at firstname.lastname@example.org for a membership form.
Craig Collins, President