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Sky's the limit for Australian optical astronomy

23 November 2018

Joint media release with the Federal Member for Bennelong the Hon John Alexander OAM MP

The Coalition Government has officially launched Australian Astronomical Optics (AAO), a new national optical astronomy entity. 

AAO will bring together and boost Australia’s existing strengths in optical technology. The AAO will take on a commercial and industry focus, while continuing strong engagement with the global community by designing and developing equipment for world-leading facilities.

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said the launch marked a significant milestone for the national science community.

“The work of the research sector partnership, led by Macquarie University, will maximise the scientific and economic returns of Australia’s engagement with international astronomy projects by boosting our global competitiveness,” Minister Andrews said.

“Australia has a proud history of investment in the astronomy sector – in telescopes, instrumentation, super computers, technology and research – and the Coalition Government committed $119.2 million over a decade in optical astronomy in the 2017-18 Budget.”

“As part of our plan to grow our science capability and drive Australia’s economic growth, the Coalition has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in our astronomy sector to operate national facilities, develop new instruments for telescopes, join multinational projects, and create centres of excellence.

“These strategic investments are enabling Australia’s highly-respected astronomers to contribute to global discovery, inspire the public, and transform technology with the potential to change lives.”

Speaking at the launch, Member for Bennelong Mr John Alexander acknowledged the work undertaken by partners at Macquarie University, the Australian National University, the University of Sydney and Astronomy Australia Limited in establishing the new entity.

“Australian Astronomical Optics is a great example of the power of industry and research partnerships, and there are many more opportunities in optics and spectroscopy, robotics, automated manufacturing and precision engineering,” Mr Alexander said.

“The AAO will lead new applications for optical technology that range from medical imaging, to the airline industry and to spacecraft components – the sky’s the limit.”

The Coalition Government signed a ten-year strategic partnership with the European Southern Observatory in 2017, giving Australian astronomers access to the Observatory’s state-of-the-art research infrastructure, allowing Australia to maintain its research excellence in this era of global astronomy.

To find out more about Australian Astronomical Optics, visit www.aao.org.au

Media contact: Minister Andrews' office 02 6277 7070