Stockport Observatory

General Information

Stockport Observatory is located in the small town of Stockport (6kms north-east of Hamley Bridge) approximately 80kms north of Adelaide. It provides a convenient astronomical facility away from the light pollution which surrounds Adelaide (population 1.3 million). 

The Society owns two large permanent observatories in Stockport. The largest is the Charles Todd Observatory (centre) which houses the Society's largest telescope -- the 20-inch (0.5 metre) Jubilee Telescope. The smaller of the permanent observatories is the Jubilee Dome (not shown) which houses a 16-inch (40cm) telescope. The Grida Dome (left) houses a 12-inch (30cm) Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope.

The Charles Todd Dome and the Grida Dome at Stockport Observatory. Image credit Steven Saffi.

Stockport Observatory houses a number of permanently-mounted and portable telescopes.

  • The Jubilee Telescope is a 20-inch (0.5 metre) Newtonian-Cassegrain reflecting telescope that was built with the assistance of the state's Jubilee 150 Board in 1986.
  • A 16-inch (40cm) telescope is housed in the Jubilee Dome built in 1986.
  • A computerised 12-inch (30cm) Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope is housed in the Grida Dome.
  • A 15-inch (38cm) Newtonian reflecting telescope is housed in a slide-off roof observatory. 

The telescopes are used for projects within the Society and to show visitors the beauty of astronomical objects in the southern skies.

In addition to the main observatory buildings, the Stockport site also contains four telescope pads (all with power), a furnished hut with sleeping accomodation and amenities, a large shed seating around 30 people for lectures and slide shows, a BBQ area, shower and toilet facilities, and an off-site car park.

Public Viewing Nights

Star Parties for the public are usually held at Stockport Observatory in February (Summer), May (Autumn), August (Winter) and November (Spring). The dates for upcoming Star Parties are:

No upcoming events

 

Due to ongoing changes in COVID-19 restrictions, all dates are tentative until bookings open.

The following admission fees are charged at public Star Parties:  

Adults: $15
Children under 15:  $5
Members: Free

 

For your safety and comfort, bookings are now required and attendee numbers are strictly limited. To avoid the disappointment of not being able to enter the observatory if we have reached capacity, attendees must pre-purchase tickets online by selecting one of the dates. Note that if you are unable to attend, you are able to cancel pre-purchased with the full amount refunded at any time before the event.

On public viewing nights, tea, coffee, biscuits and cold drinks can be purchased. However, the BBQ is currently NOT available due to COVID-19 Safety restrictions. 

Viewing nights may be cancelled if the weather is unsuitable. If in doubt, confirm by visiting our website before travelling to any observing session. Should the event be cancelled, pre-purchased tickets will be redunded in full.

How to Get to Stockport Observatory

  1. Drive north towards Gawler, taking the bypass around the town and then the turn off towards Tarlee.
  2. Next take the sealed road (just after the 80 km speed limit sign in Templers) to Hamley Bridge. A white "street" sign within Hamley Bridge will direct you to Stockport. Follow the sealed road all the way into Stockport.
  3. In Stockport, cross the bridge and turn left onto Observatory Road -- look out for the domes!

Unfortunately there is no public transport to Stockport.

A Google Earth map is below, alternatively you can download a printable map (PDF).

Parking

There is a small car park at the observatory and ample parking on Observatory Road if the car park is full.

What to Wear & Bring

It can get extremely cold at Stockport, both in winter and summer. This isn't helped by the fact that you will be relatively immobile during the night!

If you are travelling to Stockport, we recommend that you bring:

  • Jumper and a warm jacket. Wear more layers of clothes than you think you will need. If you get too warm, you can always take them off.
  • A pair of gloves.
  • A beanie.
  • Enclosed shoes -- for your safety & comfort
  • Insect repellant -- mosquitos can make for a very unpleasant observing experience, particularly at dusk!

White light from torches is not permitted during viewing nights. White light affects the ability for your eyes (and everybody else's) to dark adapt. If you want to bring a torch, please ensure that it is covered with a red filter (such as red cellophane).

Private Bookings

Private evenings can be booked at Stockport Observatory for your school, club or group, or for special occasions. Booking fees vary depending on the number attending and the requirements of the group. Visits may be any day of the week by prior appointment.

The best time to plan your booking is usually around a first quarter moon. This will allow us to show you the moon through a telescope, and some of the other brighter objects in the night sky. If you prefer a dark sky to observe fainter objects (such as galaxies and faint nebulae), then new moon or last quarter moon are preferred. Observing near full moon is not recommended because the brightness of the moon makes it difficult to see many of the fainter objects in the night sky.

The following fees are charged for private bookings at Stockport Observatory:

  • For schools, Scout groups, or other educational organisations: 
    $250 booking fee, plus $12.50 per child over 10 children

  • For all other private bookings: 
    $500 booking fee, plus $25 per person over 10 people

For more information or to arrange bookings for observatory visits, please e-mail observatories@assa.org.au or telephone the Observatories Director on (08) 8391 5377.