An ASKAP antenna at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory. Image Credit: Ant Schinckel, CSIRO.




Wide-field Optical Astronomy from Antarctica: a Chinese-Australian Workshop

13th August 2012, 10am - 5pm

SiFA, Redfern, Sydney


In January 2012 China installed the first of three 0.5 metre wide-field (1.5x2.9 degree) optical imaging telescopes, AST3-1, at the highest point of the Antarctic plateau.

Australia is currently involved in Dome A activities through UNSW's PLATO-A, which will be the primary support platform for AST3, and through equipment to characterise the infrared background and cloud cover at Dome A.

AAL, UNSW and CAASTRO held a 1-day workshop for Australian astronomers to engage with Chinese astronomers involved in the project at Dome A. The objective was to define a plan for Australian contribution to the commencement of significant scientific output from this project.

AST3 Specifications and Data


Around fifty Australian astronomers attended and engaged with invited Chinese astronomers Ji Yang (Purple Mountain Observatory), Lifan Wang (Purple Mountain Observatory/Texas A&M University) and Jilin Zhou (Nanjing University).

The workshop participants successfully identified key science areas for collaboration between Chinese and Australian astronomers using AST3 data and potential complementary instruments and resources in Australia. These areas were:

  • Supernova physics, including the detection of prompt emission and the spectroscopic and/or photometric follow-up using Australian telescopes;
  • The discovery and characterisation of solar system objects, and exoplanets and their parent stars including detection through transit and lensing observations, and spectroscopic and/or photometric follow-up using Australian telescopes;
  • Stellar structure and evolution, including high precision photometry of variable stars and further spectroscopic and/or photometric follow-up using Australian telescopes;
  • The physics of the dynamic extragalactic Universe, including coordinated synoptic surveys between AST3/CSTAR and appropriate complementary Australian facilities.



Attendees at the Wide-field Optical Astronomy from Antarctica: A Chinese-Australian Workshop, 13 August 2012.

List of Attendees



Sunday 12th August 2012, 7pm: Pre-workshop dinner at Rubyos, 18-20 King Street, Newtown, NSW (location map)

Monday 13th August 2012, 10am - 5pm:


1 10:00 AM Welcome and Opening John Storey Dr Chris Armstrong (Director, Office of the Chief Scientist & Engineer, NSW); Prof Ji Yang (Director, Purple Mountain Observatory)
2 10:15 AM The strategic importance of Dome A astronomy and collaboration between Australia and China John Storey Brian Boyle
3 10:30 AM Why Antarctica? John Storey Michael Ashley
4 10:45 AM Chinese activities at Dome A John Storey Lifan Wang
11:15 AM Morning Tea
5 11:30 AM Chinese science goals for AST3 Ji Yang Lifan Wang; Jilin Zhou
6 12:00 AM Australian science goals using AST3 data Brian Schmidt Warrick Lawson; Daniel Bayliss; Charles Kuehn; Chris Tinney; David Coward; Fang Yuan
1:15 PM Lunch
7 2:00 PM Chinese-Australian collaboration pathways Lifan Wang Brian Schmidt; John Dickey; Bryan Gaensler
8 3:00 PM Future Possibilities at Dome A Jilin Zhou Ji Yang; Jeremy Mould; Lifan Wang
3:30 PM Afternoon Tea
9 3:50 PM Panel Discussion: Towards a Chinese-Australian Antarctic astronomy science plan. Brian Boyle Panellists: Ji Yang, Lifan Wang, Brian Schmidt, John Storey
10 4:50 PM Summary and Close John Storey



Organising Committee

John Storey (UNSW) - Chair

Michael Ireland (Macquarie University)

Michael Ashley (UNSW)

Kate Gunn (CAASTRO)

Lifan Wang (CCAA)

Mita Brierley (AAL) - principal committee contact: mita.brierley -at-



PLATO Dome A Robotic Observatory

UNSW News Release - Extreme astronomy: new telescope on high in Antarctica


The evolving Dome A landscape, complete with UNSW's PLATO-A Observatory (yellow box) and the AST3-1 telescope (the first of three) now in place.