Thursday, 26 June 2014

MOST: Molonglo Observatory Synthesis Telescope

MOST is one of the largest Australian telescopes. It is situated in the Molonglo High Plains near Hoskinstown.  It consists of two cylindrical paraboloids – built onto two arms each about a mile long – one running North-South and the other East-West. 

MOST is engaged in intergalactic exploration with Sydney University, surveying radio sources in the Southern Skies. It is compiling detailed catalogues, including data about Supernova Remnants. 

This massive structure defies being photographed.  MOST looks nothing like a telescope.  From a distance look for the faint regular metal lines on the plain.  It consists of about 150 tons of steel, and has about 18,000 square meters of reflective mesh surface focussed into 7,744 dipole collectors. 

The telescope explores space through radio frequencies – and, at an earlier time and in a different configuration, commenced the task of mapping the Southern Sky.  The telescope has been reconfigured to allow it to commence the task of remapping the sky at a range of other frequencies. 

Research from MOST can be found at

The folk who run the telescope are a clever and engaging bunch.  One was once a deputy captain of the Bungendore Rural Fire Brigade.  I once heard him over the rural fire radio during the long drought as his truck unexpectedly passed through a rain shower.  He dryly observed to Fire Control that his truck was being impacted by complex organic molecules.

Peter Quinton
June 2014

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