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Astronomy Cathedrals, from Nuraghes to the Einstein Telescope – Sardinia

Why invest on large infrastructures for Astronomy: from understanding of the origin of the Universe to improving our day-to-day life.

Wednesday 16 August 2023 – 5.00pm

Research School of Physics Australian National University Canberra ACT 2600

Event organized within the National Science Week 2023

Free registration on EventBrite


Humankind has always looked to the sky to gain a sense of identity. Today, the advancement of astronomical knowledge relies on large financial investments to build dedicated infrastructure.

From early observations in visible light using small telescopes, we have expanded to the entire electro-magnetic spectrum and we have increased enormously the size of our facilities. A recent example being built here in Australia and in South Africa, is the Square Kilometer Array, the largest telescope array to ever scan the radio sky.

In addition to telescopes that can detect electro-magnetic waves, we now have facilities that can detect gravitational waves, ripples in space-time, that propagate out from sites of cosmic events such as collapsing stars and black hole pairs, like waves created by a stone falling in a pond. They were predicted by Albert Einstein over 100 years ago, but their detection only took place in 2017.

The gravitational wave detectors built in the USA and in Italy, called LIGO and VIRGO respectively, were responsible for detecting gravitational waves coming from the merging of two black holes. Now to truly open our eyes on the multi-messenger sky, two ambitious projects are planning to build a third generation of detectors, either placed hundreds of meters underground, superelevated on the planet surface, or floating in orbit. And they will cost billions of dollars. Among these, the Einstein Telescope project, is the new European tool that has been proposed to be built in Sardinia, Italy

During this exciting evening, we will try to answer the following questions:

  • Gravitational waves, ripples in space-time: what the heck are you talking about?
  • And supposing we measure them, why? What do we learn that we already do not already know? And why do we need to build bigger detectors?
  • And why wasting all that money? What will we obtain in return




H.E. Paolo Crudele Ambassador of Italy in Australia

Prof. Keith Nugent Deputy VC  for Research and Innovation


Gravitational waves and the theory of relativity

Prof Susan Scott, theoretical physicist at ANU expert in general relativity and gravitational wave science.


The Einstein telescope in Italy

Dr. Marco Lazzarino, science attache’, Embassy of Italy in Australia


Astronomy Cathedrals – round table with the participation of:

Prof Susan Scott, theoretical physicist at ANU expert in general relativity and gravitational wave science.

Prof Orsola De Marco, Macquarie University and Chair of the Board of Astronomy Australia Limited;

Prof Mark Casali, director of Australian Astronomical Optics who build high precision optical astronomical instrumentation;

Prof David McClelland Director of the ANU Centre for Gravitational Astrophysics, Deputy Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Gravitational wave Astronomy and Australian delegate in the Gravitational Wave International Committee and in advanced LIGO.

Ass Prof Kirk McKenzie ANU, leader of the Space Technology division at the Centre for Gravitational Astrophysics.


Networking and refreshments