Stories of Australian Astronomy 2012

Born from astronomy… Looking to a star-studded future

In 1768 the British Admiralty sent Captain James Cook to the Pacific to monitor the transit of the planet Venus across the Sun. On his way home to England, Cook mapped Australia’s east coast, and claimed New South Wales.

For about 40,000 years before that, the indigenous peoples of Australia had been developing remarkably sophisticated explanations of the workings of the Southern Sky.

And in the 20th Century, an independent Australia was at the forefront of radio astronomy, receiving the first signals from the Moon.

Today Australian astronomers continue to unravel the mysteries of the southern sky.

You can read about their achievements via the table of contents, or as a PDF of the print version.

The stories are grouped into broad themes, covering:

You’ll find stories about: invading alien stars; searching for extra-solar planets; detecting gravitational waves; quaking stars and what they can tell us; looking at the skies through Aboriginal eyes; understanding our home – the Milky Way; a 268 mega pixel camera; unmasking the Universe’s dark secret; amateurs making big discoveries; stimulating the Arts; and Australia’s role in creating a giant radio telescope – the Square Kilometre Array – that will look out to the beginning of time.

You can also find out what’s happening in astronomy in your state or territory:

Stories of Australian Astronomy 2012 is part of the collection of stories of Australian science from Science in Public.

This collection could not have happened without the Australian Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Helen Sim from CSIRO/AAO and David Malin.  Click here for our full acknowledgement and thanks.

If you’d like to receive occasional bulletins about Australian science please also let me know at or sign up online.

I invite you to read these stories and to follow up with any organisation whose work captures your interest.

Niall Byrne

December 2011