Mount Stromlo Observatory

The Commonwealth Solar Observatory was established in 1924, on Mount Stromlo, on the outskirts of Canberra. Founded mainly to study the sun and support research into geophysics, the complex included residences, plant and maintenance buildings as well as scientific observation and recording equipment. This fact sheet provides information on the National Archives’ holdings relating to the construction and maintenance of the complex.

Records relating to Mount Stromlo Observatory

Records held by the National Archives relating to Mount Stromlo include correspondence files, photographs, and architectural plans and drawings dealing with the design, construction and maintenance of the complex. A selection of records is listed below.

Correspondence files

Title or description of record Date range Series, item number
Mount Stromlo – Observatory buildings 1925–29 CP698/30, 1
Mount Stromlo – general file 1925–28 CP698/30, 1/1
Mount Stromlo – Director's residence 1920–25 CP698/30, 1/2
Mount Stromlo – buildings 1927–28 CP698/30, 1/3
Mount Stromlo Observatory – estimates only 1927 CP698/30, 1/4


Title or description of record Date range Series number
Small dome on Mt Stromlo looking northeast 1926 A3560, 4
Cottages under construction at Mt Stromlo 1926 A3560, 201
Administrative building on Mt Stromlo 1925 A3560, 909
Cottages on Mt Stromlo 1926 A3560, 1642
Pine plantation on Mt Stromlo 1926 A3560, 2623
Construction site – Mt Stromlo with Mason crane 1927 A3560, 3597
Observatory dome under construction 1927 A3560, 3602
Director’s house under construction 1927 A3560, 3621
Observatory dome 1928 A3560, 4194
Observatory dome and administration buildings 1928 A3560, 4414
Buildings at Mt Stromlo 1928 A3560, 4654
Director’s residence – Mt Stromlo 1929 A3560, 5386
Administrative building – Mt Stromlo circa 1921–34 A3560, 7460
Telescope 1928 A3560, 7532
Workmen on Solar Tower – Mt Stromlo 1928 A3560, 7535
Workmen on dome over Farnham telescope 1928 A3560, 7543
Office buildings at Stromlo under construction 1927 A3560, 7561

Architectural plans & drawings

Title or description of record Date range Series number
Details of senior mechanic's residence – Mt Stromlo 1925 A2502, AB429
Layout of buildings 1924 A2502, AB430
Detail of bronze lettering circa 1924–30 A2502, AB649
Lavatory – Oddie House – Mt Stromlo 1929 A2502, AB747
Steelwork to laboratory and Sun Telescope Building 1924 A2502, AB835
Garages, fuel stores 1927 A2502, AB881
Stromlo pump house 1927 A2502, AB968
Additions to staff quarters (AC1202) 1926 A2503, folder 6
Reynolds Reflector house (AC1389) 1926 A2503, folder 7
Director’s residence (AC1445) 1927 A2503, folder 7
Reynolds Reflector house (AC1475) 1927 A2503, folder 7
Excavation to store building site (AC1485) 1927 A2503, folder 7
Temporary Farnham house (AC1504) 1927 A2503, folder 8
Details of lab and sun telescope building (AC1548) 1927 A2503, folder 8
Sub station and Farnham telescope building (AC1554) 1927 A2503, folder 8
Detail of workshop store and office (AC1645) 1927 A2503, folder 8
Architectural drawings with AG prefix 1930 A2506
Residence ‘A’ 1930 A2506, AG164
Residence ‘H’ 1930 A2506, AG164
Groundsman’s cottage 1930 A2506, AG167
Remodelling of the Administration building 1930 A2506, AG171
Reynolds Reflector House – details of reinforcements to concrete 1930 A2506, AG324
Aperture cards for ACT architectural plans and drawings 1921–59* A9663
Bingar dome undated A9663, M1957D
Timing gear details undated A9663, M8381
Dome for 48 inch telescope undated A9663, 19927
Building for cosmic rays undated A9663, 4788
Variations to addition undated A9663, 13747
Optical munitions annexe undated A9663, 15114
New bachelor quarters undated A9663, 19435
Restoration of fire damaged building undated A9663, 22028
Proposed dome and annexe for CATTS 20 inch telescope undated A9663, 23338
New ionospheric station undated A9663, 20866

* Most items in this series are not individually dated. The series date range provides some indication of when individual items were created.

For more information

You can obtain more information about the record series listed above (and the items within the series) from RecordSearch, the National Archives database. As well as records relating to the complex and its maintenance, you should be able to identify records relating to solar and astronomical observations, and other scientific activity and research undertaken at Mount Stromlo (including the Observatory’s wartime role in optical munitions production).