The Dish

I had the pleasure and privilege of touring the Parkes Radio Astronomy Telescope last weekend with a group of my fellow members of Macarthur Astronomical Society.

Constructed in 1961, it is still one of the leading world-class radio telescopes, due to regular improvements in sensitivity.

The sixty-four metre diameter dish was made famous in a movie called “The Dish”.

It was my second visit – and there have been a few changes since my first visit in 1972.

These are some images of a very memorable experience for all of us who made the round trip of 720 kilometres to see it.

Many thanks to John Sarkissian OAM for his kind hospitality.

2018-05-19 The Dish Reception
MAS members initial briefing in the CSIRO office building reception from John Sarkissian (CSIRO).
2018-05-19 The Dish from Below
The Dish from directly below. It was a stunning sight to view this famous telescope so close up.
2018-05-19 MAS Group 1 by John Sarkissian
Second group of MAS members on the gallery of the Parkes Radio Telescope. Image by John Sarkissian OAM using a members camera.
2018-05-19 The Dish Notice Board
A vacancy for experienced radio astronomers is advertised on the CSIRO noticeboard.
2018-05-19 The Dish Control Room with John Sarkissian OAM
CSIRO scientists George Hobbs and John Sarkissian explaining the commissioning of the new camera.
2018-05-19 MAS Group 2 by John Sarkissian
First group of MAS members on the gallery of the Parkes Radio Telescope. Image by John Sarkissian using my camera.
2018-05-19 The Dish View to East
The smaller companion dish and open farmland to the East of the telescope.
2018-05-19 The Dish with George Hobbs
When we visited the engineers were commissioning a new camera and trying to trace a glitch. George Hobbs (CSIRO Scientist) gave us an interesting overview.
2018-05-19 The Dish View to South
A view looking South across the open land from the gallery of the dish.
2018-05-19 The Dish, Sundial & Old Camera Cabin
Another view of The Dish, showing the sundial and on the right the original camera cabin enclosure which sat at the focal point above the dish.
2018-05-19 The Dish Control Panels
Electronic control panels inside the dish structure.
2018-05-19 The Dish Bookshop
Books by our Patron Prof Bryan Gaensler (University of Toronto) and regular speaker Prof Fred Watson (AAO) are among a fine selection on sale at the amazing Parkes Radio Telescope!


The above images were taken on 19th May 2018.

Two days before the tour was scheduled Joan and I went up to The Dish after closing time to try and get some shots as the Sun sank in the West:

2018-05-17 Parkes Radio Telescope Late Afternoon Across Wheat Field
On approach from Parkes, the Dish is easily visible in the distance, peeking above the trees.
2018-05-17 Parkes Radio Telescope Late Afternoon
The Dish lies well beyond the Visitors Centre.
Sunset at The Dish. Image by Joan Powell
2018-05-17 Parkes Radio Telescope - Joan
Joan admires the sunset sunset at The Dish.
2018-05-17 Parkes Radio Telescope Late Afternoon With Globe
A model of Planet Earth is one of several interesting objects in the well-kept garden outside the Visitor’s Centre.
2018-05-17 Parkes Radio Telescope Car Park Sunset
Turning away from the Dish in the car park we were treated to the Sun setting through the trees.


Images © R.Powell




  1. Hi Roger,
    Must have been an interesting tour!
    I once did a similar tour at the Very Large Array (VLA) in New Mecico, USA. The VLA comprises twenty-seven 25-meter radio telescopes deployed in a Y-shaped array and all the equipment, instrumentation, and computing power to function as an interferometer.
    In 1997 the VLA became famous due to the science fiction movie “Contact” with Jodie Foster and Matthew McConaughey.
    Greetings from Switzerland


  2. Hi Poly,
    Thanks for the visit and I appreciate your comment. I saw this as once-in-a-lifetime opportunity which I could not miss out on.
    I am not a movie fan but I did see Carl Sagan’s “Contact” film. Maybe I’ll even watch “The Dish” one day!
    Let me know if you have any links to the images you took at the VLA, I’d like to see them!


    1. I went there in the late 90’s. This was the time when I still took analog photos. In this case it was slides. I have to grab in my archive an digitalize them … a work I also wanted to do with slides from different other places … 🙂


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