The Dorothy Hill Observatory

The Dorothy Hill Observatory

Dorothy Hill Observatory

The Dorothy Hill Observatory — an extraordinary learning asset comprising a remotely operated observatory and telescopes — has been constructed at Brisbane Girls Grammar School’s Marrapatta Memorial Outdoor Education Centre.

The observatory provides learning opportunities across the curriculum, from Junior Science and Physics to Mathematics, Information Technology, Visual Art and beyond

Dorothy Hill Observatory factsheet

About the Observatory

A ‘box style’ observatory building will house three telescope and camera systems on the one robotic mount:

  • a smaller telescope with a colour camera
  • a larger telescope with a more sophisticated camera capable of producing images and scientific data
  • a third telescope and camera capable of a live broadcast over the Internet to give students a guided tour of the sky – the modern equivalent of a school astronomy evening.

The system is capable of unattended operation and can follow a selection of celestial objects and take images that can be downloaded by students.

Learning opportunities

Year 7 Science

Year 7 girls will use the observatory to learn the equivalent of latitude and longitude in the sky and how to know when a target object will be visible during the year.

They can then choose a deep sky object, such as a nebular or globular cluster, for further investigation.

Girls will use the remote telescope to perform an imaging operation that produces data for downloading. Using software and Photoshop, the students will process their raw images and generate ‘individual’ results – science meets art.

They will then research and present on their object, effectively following the procedure of a scientist.

Year 10 Science

Year 10 girls will build on the astronomy skills learnt in Year 7 Science.

The larger telescope and camera takes monochrome images through coloured filters, which are combined in software to produce a coloured image. Specialised filters can be used to image nebulae in specific wavelengths of light to demonstrate the gaseous composition.

Girls will undertake more extensive processing of these images to yield the final result, introducing them to concepts of colour chemistry.

Year 11 and 12 Physics

Girls studying Year 11 and 12 Physics could choose to use the telescope for their extended experimental investigations.

Topics could include:

  • obtaining a light curve for a variable star
  • following a minor planet to build information on its orbit
  • following the transit of a planet orbiting around a distant star.

Supporting professional research

Astronomy is a rare scientific field where amateurs can produce original data that is valuable to professionals. For example, professional astronomers frequently request assistance from amateurs to monitor variable stars to determine when it is appropriate to schedule observations at major observatories.

The observatory will enable girls to collect scientific data to support professional astronomical projects and academic research, fostering real-world scientific skills in the process.

Fostering partnerships and industry connections

The observatory will provide new opportunities to partner with universities, scientific and commercial organisations and the global scientific community. This will provide important insights into scientific industries and connections to future careers.

Enhanced industry connections will inspire our girls about their futures, provide realistic insights into challenges and opportunities, and equip them to be effective in twenty-first-century scientific workplaces.