Paper model of radio telescope with starry background.

The Dish has just turned 60!

By David Shaw and Domonkos Szabo

The Parkes radio telescope, turned 60 this week! To celebrate, why not make a model of The Dish?

You will need

  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Sticky tape (optional)
  • Ten cent coins (optional)
  • A copy of the Parkes printout. You can do a 2-sided print, or print on two pieces of paper and stick them back-to-back.

What to do

  1. Illustration of cut out pieces of model.Cut along the solid black lines of all six pieces.
  2. Bending the base piece to make a cylinder.To make the base, put glue on all the grey tabs. Bend the rectangle around to make a cylinder, and then stick the circle on top.
  3. Fold and glue the tabs to make a box.To make the mount, fold along all the dotted lines, then put glue on the grey tabs. It should fold to make a box with a slanted bottom and no lid.
  4. Stick the box on top of the cylinder base.Turn the mount upside down so the open side is on the bottom and stick the tabs to the circle on the top of the base.
  5. Circular flattish dish of paper.To make the dish, make sure you’ve cut along all the solid black lines, and put glue on the grey tabs. Tuck each tab under the section of the dish right next to it. The dish should stay relatively flat – it only curves a little bit!
  6. To install the focus cabin pieces, stick one of the square grey tabs on each piece to a different square on the face of the dish.
  7. Glue the rods inside the dish.Stick the remaining square ends of the rods underneath the hexagonal focus cabin on the end of the remaining rod.
  8. Glue the dish to the slanted top of the mount.Glue the dish to the slanted top of the mount.
  9. Put coins into the cylinder base.To make your telescope more stable, sticky-tape a few ten cent coins inside the base to weigh it down.


What’s happening?

This is a model of CSIRO’s Parkes radio telescope, also known as ‘The Dish’. The telescope was built in 1961, but over time parts of it have been upgraded, including the surface and focus cabin represented in this model. These upgrades mean the telescope is now ten thousand times more sensitive than when it was first built.

Fact file

  • Size: 64 metres across, 3216 square metres
  • Weight: 300 tonnes
  • Time to rotate 360 degrees: 15 minutes

We acknowledge the Wiradjuri People as the traditional owners of the Parkes Observatory.

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