The LX 200 -ACF Meade Telescope each participating school will be using.

The Telescopes in Schools Program is an exciting outreach initiative by the Astrophysics Group at The University of Melbourne that places research grade telescopes into secondary schools around Melbourne and regional Victoria. The program was originally founded in 2011 by Professor Rachel Webster, head of Astrophysics at University of Melbourne and Dr Shane Huntington, 3RRR presenter and Principal Strategy Advisor to the Dean of Medicine, and has since facilitated over 300 observing events and had attendance of over 10,000 visitors and volunteers to the program. Telescopes in Schools was also the co-founder with Mount Burnett Observatory and Scienceworks of the AstroLight Festival, an annual science festival celebrating astronomy and light.

The University of Melbourne

Twelve schools have received a 12 inch LX200-ACF Meade telescope or 9.25 inch Celestron telescope with all the necessary accessories to observe the night sky, image the objects in the night sky and conduct small research projects. These telescopes are large enough to view deep sky objects such as nebulae and far away galaxies or zero in on a crater on the moon. They are fully computerised and can find any catalogued object you may wish to look at. Once the object is located, the telescope will track that object, so that an hour later, it is still in your field of view!

For a minimum of 6 nights a year, small groups of secondary school students will be treated to an opportunity to hear an astrophysicist speak or perform some activities, then head out to the observation site where they will learn how to set up and drive the telescope. Once they have become proficient in handling the telescope, they will then have the opportunity to look at objects, image them and even conduct a research project.

The observation nights will be attended by members of the Astrophysics group, the high school teachers, the students and parents are encouraged to come along. The program will be tailored to suit the interests and abilities of each participating school.

This site hosts a blog about our activities, a gallery of images taken by our group and some excellent resources for hosting an observation night, teaching astrophysics in schools and finding out about astrophysics in general.

We would like to thank the University of Melbourne HEPPP grant scheme for the seed funding to begin this project and for the Laby Foundation who continues their generous support for the program since 2013.


Laby Foundation


32 comments on “HOME

    • Hi Sue,

      Thank you for your interest. At the moment we are concentrating on the Northern and Western suburbs of Melbourne, but we hope to expand the program over the next few years. I will contact you shortly to let you know just how we plan to expand and how Mornington Secondary College could get involved.

      • Likewise – I’d love to get involved at some point. Sounds like a great concept, although distance is most likely a factor for us :).

        Sean Carroll
        Heywood and District Secondary College,
        Gorrie Street, Heywood 3304.
        Carroll.sean.C [at] edumail.vic.gov.au

      • Hi Sean,

        Also great to hear the program is getting such interest from schools all over the state. Yes at the moment you are probably just too far away for us to be a full participant in the program, but as the program progresses, we hope that schools like yours can be included as with today’s technology, no-one is really too far away. You certainly have the skies for an amazing astronomy program. I will contact you with regards to these possibilities soon.

  1. I am obviously too far away as well – but also have great dark skies and would love to be notified re future possibilities.
    Marion Martin
    Highview College
    21 Kars St,
    Maryborough VIc 3465

    • Hello Marion and Highview College. Thank you for the interest in our program and I will certainly include you in any updates and expansions of the program in the future!

    • Hello Chitkara School, India.

      How wonderful to hear from you and thank you for the comments on the program. Yes distance is definitely a factor! Do let us know if you are starting up your own Astronomy club, it would be fantastic to compare notes with you from halfway around the world.

  2. Just wanted to say how much our College, particularly the Science Faculty and students have appreciated to be involved in TiS since the start of this term. Jacinta and Shane have been fantastic in supporting us and we have some great plans for 2013. It really has promoted what possibilitiesScience can provide for students.

    Dale Barry GSC

    • Thanks Dale,

      We look forward to working with everyone at Gisborne Secondary College next year and it has been our absolute pleasure to do some Astronomy and promote Science with you.

  3. We had eleven observation evenings and although we some cloudy nights, our studenys really enjoyed the guest speakers and workshopd run by Jacinta and University of Melbourne Astrophysics students as alternative activities. The students became confident in using the telescope and enjoyed great views of the rings of Saturn, phases of Venus, craters on the Moon, the redness of the planet Mars and the Transit of Venus. We can’t thank the TiS Program enough and look forward to picking up where we left off next year.

    • Thanks David,

      We are also looking forward to working with Charles La Trobe College again next year. It has been an absolute pleasure working with the students and watching them take over the telescope and get excited about Astronomy.

  4. My students and I have been talking a lot about starting an astronomy club as we are planning to learn about astrophysics in Year 11 Physics. We would love to be a part of this program and were wondering how do we get involved? Thank you,
    Daniel J. Horvat
    Braemar College, Woodend

    • Hi Daniel,

      Thanks for getting in touch with us, we would love to have Braemar College involved in the Telescopes program. I will send you through some details shortly!

  5. Wonderful program for the schools. Wish they were available in my area of the USA. How many schools are in the pilot program now? Seems like a grand opportunity for the students. FYI: Found your site while researching info for my telescope website: Orion Telescopes

    • Thank you Michael. We have just enlisted our tenth school into the program! We are very excited. Can I suggest that if you are really interested in a similar program that you do approach the Astrophysics department of your local University or College. We would be happy to offer advice and help facilitate the beginning of a similar program in the States.

    • Thanks Jessamine, the interest is certainly growing and it is wonderful to be reaching out to so many budding Astronomers. Thank you for the suggested link too!

  6. Hi There
    This program sounds fantastic! I have been put onto this by a student and parent and it would work beautifully with the astronomy program I am trying to start up at our college. Any chance of getting it out to Geelong at all or is it just Western Metro Melbourne?
    Thank you
    Ahmed Mulla
    Geelong Lutheran College

    • Hello Ahmed, thank you for your interest in the program! I believe I have spoken with a student and teacher from the college previously. I am certainly happy to strike up a conversation as to how the Geelong Lutheran college can get involved in the program. I will be in touch shortly with further details on how that might happen.

  7. My daughter had the opportunity to view the skies through the auspices of Gisborne Secondary College. Her primary school were invited to attend and had a fantastic evening. The skies were unfortunately cloudy but Jacinta provided the students with some great information and some terrific activities. We were then all invited back again later in the week where we experienced a clear night. The view of the moon was terrific however Saturn had to be a highlight. Thanks Gisborne Secondary College for inviting us.

    • Hello Shobi, I would be very interested in talking with the staff at Thomastown SC about getting involved in the program! We are just now in the position to look at expanding our program beyond our initial pilot schools so I will be in contact shortly.

  8. This looks like a fantastic opportunity. Is there any chance you will be expanding the program to regional schools? (perhaps we could Skype or Teleconference?)

    • Hello Renee, thank you for your interest in our program. We do have a couple of regional schools involved and Skyping and teleconferencing is certainly a possibility. I will be in contact with more details shortly.

  9. This looks like a fantastic program and a wonderful opportunity for those schools who are participating! Are you expanding beyond the initial pilot schools at all? We have been discussing running astronomy evenings with our whole school community (including inviting our local primary schools) and would love to join the program if more places open up. In addition to the extra-curricular opportunities, it would provide valuable learning experiences for our Big Bang theory classes at Year 10, our astronomy education in year 7 and our VCE Physics classes, just to name a few areas we would use it.
    Thank you,
    Sarah Moore,
    MacKillop College, Werribee

    • Hello Sarah, I would love to talk to you more about our program and how MacKillop College may get involved. Please email me through the Contact page with your details and we can see how to progress.

  10. I’m a grade 5/6 teacher at lalor east primary school. We will be studying the solar system in term 1 of 2016 and i had ideas of organising a sleep over to view the night sky. Unfortunately i no longer have access to the telescope i was planning to use. I came across your ‘telescopes in schools outreach program’. Although this is a secondary program i was wondering if you might have any program or opporrunities to allow us access to a telescope for the night and any team members who might guide us through the night sky. I’d really appreciate any feed back on this idea (which is stil in the very early stages of planning) or some advice about who else i might ask.

    • Hello Ruth,

      Can you please contact me through the contacts page and I will email you my details and a few possibilities. We can then chat about how we might be able to work something out for your Space sleepover.


  11. Hello from Kolbe catholic college Greenvale lakes. The program sounds fantastic. Could we please be a part of it? I have some very interested students in vce physics ?

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