Parkes Observatory 1961

Parkes Observatory 1961

© Ilya Genkin

The Telescope

Bill Brown was one of the Freeman Fox & Partners’ team commissioned for the design and engineering of optical and radio telescopes in Australia, Canada and La Palma. The first was for the Parkes Observatory in New South Wales, Australia, which became operational in 1961.

Initial studies for the telescope had been carried out by Barnes Wallis in the 1950s and he recommended the consulting engineers at Freeman Fox, under the lead of Gilbert Roberts, should realise the project. The team devised a 64m-diameter dish that was light yet rigid and capable of being steered about horizontal and vertical axes. Bill paid particular attention to the mountings.

In July 1969, the Parkes Telescope was a prime receiving station for the Apollo 11 mission to the Moon and received video footage of the first Moon walk.

Parkes Radio Telescope

One of the largest in the southern hemisphere

Key Facts

64m-diameter dish

A large, stearable radio telescope


New South Wales, Australia

Near the town of Parkes

Designers / Engineers

Gilbert Roberts, Colin Blackwell, Bill Brown and MH Jeffery

Freeman Fox & Partners


Light yet rigid structure

Rotates on a steel track mounted on a concrete tower