Welcome to Parkes
Just outside the town of Parkes in central New South Wales, Australia, sits one of the most prominent radio astronomy telescopes in the world.
Completed in 1961 and designed by the U.K. firm Freeman Fox & Partners (which also engineered the Sydney Harbour bridge), "the dish" has been a pioneering facility in the exploration of space. It has, among other things, discovered more than 700 pulsars (about half of all known pulsars in the universe), mapped the Milky Way Galaxy and detected its magnetic field, and surveyed neighboring galaxies out to a distance of 300 million light-years by searching for neutral hydrogen.
What's more, Parkes has played a vital role in tracking the Mariner II, Voyager II, and Galileo space probes, and almost every Apollo flight, including the Apollo 11 moon landing. The 2000 film "The Dish," starring Sam Neil, tells the Apollo 11 story, while fictionalizing some details.
If you've seen the movie, you'll recognize this view of the radio telescope down the tree-shaded drive. Sheep no longer roam the grounds as they did on the big screen, but the telescope dominates the flat and pastoral landscape around it.
December 13, 2011 12:52 PM PST
Photo by: Kent German
| Caption by: Kent German
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