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A brick cylindrical observatory in Ballarat.
Photograph: Supplied

The best observatories and planetariums in Victoria

See stars, planets and celestial bodies at these theatres and observatories scattered throughout Melbourne and Victoria

Adena Maier
Written by
Adena Maier
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If you're not Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk and space exploration isn't on the cards for you right now, embark on a journey to your local planetarium or observatory for a closer-to-home exploration of the stars, planets and celestial bodies that comprise our universe. Planetariums are like sky theatres that simulate the night sky and project astronomical phenomena onto a domed ceiling, whereas observatories allow visitors to observe the night sky through a telescope.

Have a scroll, head over and prepare to be amazed at our vast cosmos.

Want to gaze at the night sky in private? Check out these stellar spots for stargazing across Melbourne.

  • Museums
  • Spotswood

With a 16m domed ceiling, reclining seats, a 7.1 surround sound system and a full-dome video projection, the Planetarium inside of Scienceworks is always a huge hit. On Friday nights, it transforms into an adults-only cinema, with films transporting viewers to outer space, coral reefs and black holes. There are two screenings a night, and you can enjoy a drink from the bar while taking in the planetary surroundings. 

Mount Burnett Observatory
  • Museums
  • Mount Burnett

Built in the '70s by Monash Uni for its Science Faculty, the Mount Burnett Observatory faced closure in 2011. Thankfully, a few members of the Astronomical Society Victoria banded together with a professional astronomer and saved it. Since then, it's enjoyed a new lease on life as a community astronomical observatory. Become a member or attend the observatory's public viewing nights, and sign your kids up for the Young Observers Group for junior astronomers. The observatory also hosts heaps of events, and you can keep up-to-date on them through the website

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  • Things to do
  • Melbourne

Located in the heart of the Royal Botanic Gardens is a massive observatory that was built in 1863. While it was decommissioned in 1945, it has remained in use as an astronomical observatory. Stroll through the gardens then head over for science seminars or a tour that takes you through the history of astronomy in Melbourne.

  • Things to do
  • Educational venues
  • Ballarat

With the financial support of pioneer James Oddie, who is often referred to as the father of Ballarat, this observatory opened its doors to the public in 1886. It's still open now more than a century later, and you can head to the observatory building to look through both modern and historical telescopes to see the planets and the stars. The site also features a 3D movie theatre, cafe, science shop and one of the most comprehensive collections of astronomical instruments in regional Australia. 

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