Star gazing enthusiasts now have access to an astronomical facility with the completion of the Tamworth Regional Astronomy and Science Centre.
Tamworth has now joined the towns of Coonabarabran, Bathurst, Dubbo, Mudgee, and Parkes as one of New South Wales’ astro-tourism capitals.
Tamworth Regional Council Mayor Col Murray said “this fantastic new centre will not only provide a hands- on learning centre for our local students, but it will also attract visitors to our region as part of the NSW astro-tourism network.”
The centre is the newest addition to the NSW Inland Astronomy Trail and is expected to generate approximately $422,000 in tourism for the Tamworth region annually.
Member for New England Barnaby Joyce welcomed the completion of the centre, congratulating the Tamworth Regional Astronomy Club for its vision, passion, and dedication to space.
“It was not that long ago that we stood here on a vacant block of land…a bare patch of undulating country that needed a great vision of what could be” Mr Joyce said.
“This has been a significant community event that really has shown what happens when you get behind an idea of passionate, committed dedicated people who love what they do. And how could you not love what is happening in space”.
The new Astronomy Centre is complete with a large observatory with a roll-off roof to house a variety of medium to large telescopes, a planetarium for presentations and lectures, a multifunctional space for the display of instruments and educational instruction and a small observatory with a roll of roof to house the rare history Hewitt Camera Telescope.
The Hewitt Camera is one of only two telescopes of its type in the world and will now call Tamworth home. This rare camera telescope will offer Tamworth a unique point of difference, capable of finding the exact location of satellites orbiting Earth.
The Tamworth Regional Astronomy Centre is open to the public on Thursday evenings from 5pm to 8pm and Saturdays from 10am to 2pm. Opening hours will increase over the next few months as the final installations at the centre are completed.
The centre will be operated by the Tamworth Regional Astronomy Club, made up of 85 members. The club is an accredited Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics provider, and has been hosting school groups for the past three years.
Tamworth Regional Astronomy Club President Garry Copper said, “We are thrilled that our members will be able to share their expert knowledge with the public in such an amazing educational facility moving forward.”