Swinburne is the only Australian university with guaranteed access to the world's largest and most productive optical/infra-red telescopes — the twin Keck Observatory telescopes located near the summit of Mauna Kea, Hawaii.

Keck Observatory on Mauna Kea, Hawaii.

We have an agreement with the California Institute of Technology giving our astronomers unprecedented access to the twin 10-metre Keck Observatory telescopes. Located 4,200 metres above sea level on the dormant volcano Mauna Kea, the Keck telescopes have provided some of the most spectacular views of the universe ever obtained. 

The telescopes are the largest and most productive optical/infrared telescopes in the world. Each telescope mirror is made from 36 hexagonal segments 1.8 metres in diameter. The enormous mirror structure weighs in at over 14,000 kg but is extremely well balanced and can be pointed towards objects in the night sky with incredible precision. 

To demonstrate the size and iconic hexagonal shape of the Keck mirrors the Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing team and students mark out the size of one Keck mirror, with an artist's impression of the footprint.

Artist's impression of the Keck mirror footprint.

Keck Observatory instruments

Both Keck I and II offer a wide range of instruments, including:

The Swinburne Time Assignment Committee for Keck (STACK) grants access to the Keck telescopes.

Following a call for proposals, Swinburne astronomers apply to use the telescopes in order to complete their specific astronomy research program. The STACK reviews the applications and grants access to successful applicants. 

Most Keck observing runs involve PhD students and some of the data collected forms part of their PhD thesis. Swinburne University of Technology was the first university in Australia to have access to the Keck telescopes. Our PhD students have been using the facility since 2009 for research and training.

  • “Our unique access to the Keck Observatory has allowed the Centre for Astrophysics & Supercomputing to attract top astronomers, postdoctoral researchers and students from all over the world. CAS is using the Keck Telescopes to push the boundaries of the observable Universe by discovering some of the first galaxies to have formed while also determining how they evolved into the galaxies we see today.

    Assoc. Prof. Glenn Kacprzak

Astronomy at Swinburne

  • The Milky Way night sky with stars in Crimea.


    Swinburne postgraduate Astronomy courses include Master, Diploma and Certificate level qualifications. Access the Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing.
  • Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing

    The Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing is dedicated to inspiring a fascination in the universe through research and education. We aim to understand how the universe around us came to be and determine the nature of the physical laws making it work.

Contact the research team

Whether you’re a PhD student, media, or an organisation looking to collaborate, partner or access our facilities, please email the team via research@swinburne.edu.au or call +61 3 9214 4859.

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