Engage with us

Engage with us

Students experiencing the observatory

There are many ways to engage with the Department of Physics and Astronomy. As you can see from our events page we run a number of events each year that are open to the wider community.

In addition, we also offer School Outreach Opportunities and Teacher Professional Development Courses, as well as ongoing public events with the Association of Astronomy (Department of Physics and Astronomy) Macquarie University Observatory.

Why not come along and learn more about what we do, and how physics and astronomy affects you?

School Outreach

As a Department we strive to provide valued high quality school engagement opportunities which will encourage a deeper discovery into physics and astronomy and contribute to making Macquarie University the first choice for school leavers and community in our region and beyond. The Physics and Astronomy department aim to foster and develop further a strong and visible representation in the local and wider communities as an authority in physical sciences, research, education and outreach.

This can include but is not limited to:

  • on-campus supervised laboratory experiences
  • Tours of our facilities including our teaching and research labs, including our 3D printing lab.
  • guest lecture opportunities both on-site and in-school. 

Through the Association for Astronomy at Macquarie we are also able to provide interactive planetarium experiences, again both on campus and at your school, subject to what is most suitable.

For more information, click here to learn more about our Activities for Schools.

Why not get in touch with our Outreach Coordinators in the Department of Physics and Astronomy > Kelly Sharpless and Sue Lumley.

Teacher Professional Development

The Department of Physics and Astronomy also offers professional development opportunities for teachers, run in conjunction with the Academy of Continuing Professional Development in Education (ACPDE) here at Macquarie University.

For upcoming courses, visit the ACPDE to find out more.

Hologram – To Absent Friends

To Absent Friends is the world’s largest laser transmission hologram and was awarded the Grand Prix of the First High Tec Art Biennale in Nagoya, Japan in 1989. For this work Paula recreated a traditional Australian pub bar within the isolation of the National Acoustics Laboratory in Sydney, as well as a functioning holography lab. To Absent Friends was produced in 1989 and originally commissioned by Robert and Janet Holmes a Court in 1987. It was the largest holographic commission undertaken in the world. It remains the largest hologram showing the greatest depth of field on an international scale.

The three bar mirrors were replaced by three holograms revealing the state of the room at three moments during a New Year’s party. At strategic moments the guests were asked to vacate the bar-room while its disheveled condition was thoroughly photographed by Fiona Hall, whose images were used to reconstruct the various states of the room, in order for them to be recorded as holograms.

Both party and bar-room were a fabrication of the artist and were delicately and precisely staged. Thoroughly documented and orchestrated by Dawson, the ‘bar’ shell created within the isolation and quiet of the National Acoustics Laboratory, Sydney was a scientifically and artistically precise undertaking.

In 2005, Professor Paula Dawson generously donated this work under the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program to Macquarie University representing one of the most significant art works donated to the University. It currently resides in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, Building E6B, Level 2.

The central concept of To Absent Friends is that of using contemporary domestic architecture as a memory repository not for factual information but for emotional states.

You can purchase a 50 minute DVD tour of the Hologram.

Find out more about Holograms and information on Paula’s work.

Absent friends hologramAbsent friends hologram

Photo Credit: Fiona Hall (left), Paula Dawson (right)

Bringing astronomy to the community

The Macquarie University Association for Astronomy (AfA) was established in 1988 by Dr. Alan Vaughan to ecourage teaching and research in astronomy and astrophysics, promote astronomy outreach to the public, and enable various parts of the astronomical community to interact.

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