Engage with us

Engage with us

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?

Ongoing observatory and planetarium public events

Visit the Observatory – Monday & Friday Night Observing Sessions

The Association for Astronomy (Department of Physics & Astronomy) invites you to observe the cosmos with your own eyes at the Macquarie University Astronomical Observatory. View planets, moons, binary stars, star clusters, nebulae and bright galaxies through our newly upgraded 12″ and 16″ professional in-dome telescopes. You will be guided by our trained astronomy staff, so please come prepared with any astronomy questions you may have !

See more information about the observatory

Visit the Planetarium – First Thursday of each month

Come and be amazed by an up-close look at the motions of celestial objects, the surfaces of planets, deep sky objects, constellations and much more! You can take a tour of the local Solar System, peer into the depths of the galaxy, or watch amazing new planetarium movies.

See more information about the planetarium

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
  • facilities tours such as tours of our Diamond and 3 D printing laboratories
  • guest lecture opportunities both on-site and in-school. 

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

In order to continually improve our offerings we greatly value feedback and insights from the community with regards to outreach.

Why not get in touch with the Department of Physics and Astronomy's. Outreach Team.

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.

Our next course is: Teaching Astronomy for Stage 3 on Friday 2 November. Details can be found here.

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)

School support materials

NSW Syllabus outcomes

Stage 5 Science

  • 5.3 evaluates the impact of applications of science on society and the environment
  • 5.5 analyses how current research might affect people’s lives
  • 5.12 relates the interactions involved in using some common technologies to their underlying scientific principles
  • 5.14 undertakes first-hand investigations independently with safety and competence
  • 5.15 gathers first-hand data accurately

Stage 6 Engineering

  • H1.2 differentiates between properties of materials and justifies the selection of materials, components and processes in engineering
  • H2.2 analyses and synthesises engineering applications in specific fields and reports on the importance of these to society
  • H4.1 investigates the extent of technological change in engineering
  • H4.3 appreciates social, environmental and cultural implications of technological change in engineering and applies them to the analysis of specific problems
  • H6.2 demonstrates skills in analysis, synthesis and experimentation related to engineering

Stage 6 Physics – 8.2 The World Communicates

  • P1 outlines the historical development of major principles, concepts and ideas in physics
  • P3 assesses the impact of particular technological advances on understanding in physics
  • P4 describes applications of physics which affect society or the environment
  • P5 describes the scientific principles employed in particular areas of research in physics
  • P7 describes the effects of energy transfers and energy transformations
  • P12 discusses the validity and reliability of data gathered from first-hand investigations and secondary sources
  • P14 draws valid conclusions from gathered data and information
  • P15 implements strategies to work effectively as an individual or as a member of a team
  • P16 demonstrates positive values about, and attitude towards, both the living and nonliving components of the environment, ethical behaviour and a desire for a critical evaluation of the consequences of the applications of science

Stage 6 Senior Science

  • H1 discusses advances in scientific understanding and technology that have changed the direction or nature of scientific thinking
  • H2 applies the processes that are used to test and validate models, theories and laws, to investigations
  • H3 assesses the contribution of scientific advances on the development of technologies
  • H4 asses the impacts of applications of science on society and the environment
  • H5 describes possible future directions of scientific research
  • 9.4 Information Systems 2. Electromagnetic radiation can be modulated to carry different types of information 3. Electromagnetic waves have different properties which are utilised in a range of communication systems through air and space 5. Information can be transmitted in the form of electrical impulses 6. Electrical energy can be converted to light energy for use in optical fibre communication systems
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