Parkes: five decades of discovery
Five decades after starting work, CSIRO's Parkes telescope is still one of the world's leading radio telescopes.
4 August 2011 | Updated 14 October 2011
1961 The Parkes telescope is opened on 31 October.
1962 Parkes does its first tracking of a spacecraft, Mariner II.
1962 Researchers using Parkes find that our Galaxy has a magnetic field, a million times weaker than Earth’s. This is the first discovery of a magnetic field in space.
1963 [publication date] Astronomers use Parkes to determine the position of quasar 3C 273. This work proves crucial in establishing that quasars are hugely powerful, hugely distant objects, far beyond our Galaxy.
1964 Publication of the first results of Parkes’ first survey to find and catalogue cosmic radio sources.
1968 Astronomers using Parkes detect pulsar signals, just weeks after UK researchers announce the discovery of pulsars.
1969 Parkes maps the Galaxy. Work in the '50s had shown that the Galaxy has spiral arms. Parkes helped refine the picture by mapping the Galaxy’s main constituent, neutral (that is, unionised) hydrogen gas. Two Parkes surveys published in 1969 were combined with data from the Northern Hemisphere to give a new picture of the distribution and motion of neutral hydrogen gas in the Galaxy.
1969 Parkes makes simultaneous observations with radio telescopes at Owens Valley, California. This is Parkes' first use of a technique called VLBI (very long baseline interferometry).
1969 Parkes receives television signals from the Apollo 11 Moon landing and relays them to a worldwide audience of 600 million.