The Parkes dish is 60, but it’s still making major scientific breakthroughs

The CSIRO’s 64-metre Parkes Radio Telescope was commissioned on October 31, 1961. At the time it was the most advanced radio telescope in the world, incorporating many innovative features that have since become standard in all large-dish antennas.

Through its early discoveries, it quickly became the leading instrument of its kind. Today, 60 years later, it is still arguably the finest single-dish radio telescope in the world. It is still performing world-class science and making discoveries that shape our understanding of the Universe.

The telescope’s origins date back to wartime radar research by the Radiophysics Laboratory, part of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), the forerunner of the CSIRO. On the Sydney cliff tops at Dover Heights, the laboratory developed radar for use in the Pacific theatre. When the second world war ended, the technology was redirected into peaceful applications, including studying radio waves from the Sun and beyond.