New head for major Australian Observatory


Chris Lidman, formerly of the European Southern Observatory, takes the top job at ANU’s Siding Spring.


The Siding Spring Observatory.
The Siding Spring Observatory.
GRAHAME McCONNELL/Getty Images

The Australian National University (ANU) based in the Australian capital Canberra has announced that Chris Lidman will be the first director of the ANU Siding Spring Observatory.

This appointment will bring over 50 telescopes, including several state-of-the-art ones used for research and commercially operated devices, under his care.

The observatory is a key site for astronomy, astrophysics and space research in Australia, ideally situated at the summit of Mount Woorut, nestled under the clear skies of Warrumbungle National Park in New South Wales, Australia.

One of the research scopes housed here is the SkyMapper, which maps the entirety of the southern sky. Another is the ANU United Kingdom Schmidt Telescope, which is currently collecting data covering two million galaxies and three million stars, focussing composition, temperature and density.

Lidman has had a stellar career in astronomy, with an extensive publication record. His long list of accolades includes contributing to research that led to the discovery of the accelerating expansion of the universe through observations of distant supernovae – a discovery that was awarded the 2011 Nobel Prize for Physics.

He is also at the helm of the OzDES program, which is engaged in determining the reasons and mechanisms behind this expansion of the universe, using the fine tunings of the ANU Anglo-Australian Telescope to record detailed changes in wavelengths of distant celestial bodies.

Lidman’s connection with the world class facility goes back over two decades to his student days, and he is keen that the observatory remains a source of inspiration and learning for future generations under his leadership.

Geetanjali Rangnekar is a science communicator and editor, based in Adelaide, Australia.
  1. http://www.anu.edu.au/about/campuses-facilities/siding-spring-observatory
  2. https://www.eso.org/public/announcements/ann11069/
  3. http://www.mso.anu.edu.au/ozdes/
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