ANU appoints new Director for Siding Spring Observatory

12 February 2018

The Australian National University (ANU) has appointed astronomer Dr Chris Lidman as the first Director of the ANU Siding Spring Observatory.

Dr Lidman will oversee operations at the Observatory, which is home to more than 50 telescopes and is an important site for global astronomy, astrophysics and space science in Australia.

Siding Spring is home to the ANU SkyMapper telescope, which is mapping the entire southern sky, and to the ANU United Kingdom Schmidt Telescope, which is taking spectra for 2 million nearby galaxies and 3 million bright stars.

From 1 July, ANU will take over operations for the Anglo-Australian Telescope (AAT) at Siding Spring. The AAT is Australia's largest optical telescope and a national facility serving all Australian astronomers.

Director of the ANU Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics Professor Matthew Colless welcomed Dr Lidman to the new role.

"Chris is one of Australia's leading astronomers and he will ensure Siding Spring Observatory remains Australia's top observatory and a centre known around the world for its excellence in astronomy"

Dr Lidman, who completed his PhD at ANU in 1994, is currently Head of National Facilities Support at the Australian Astronomical Observatory.

He has more than 30,000 citations from 197 research papers and more than 100 other publications.

He was a member of the team which shared the 2011 Nobel Prize for Physics with the team led by ANU Vice-Chancellor Professor Brian Schmidt, for discovering the accelerating expansion of the Universe. Dr Lidman also shared the 2007 Gruber Cosmology Prize and the 2014 Breakthrough Prize for this research.

He is now leading the successful OzDES program, which is measuring the redshifts for very faint galaxies in which the Dark Energy Survey is finding distant supernovae.

"As a student using the telescopes at Siding Spring 25 years ago, I never imagined that I would one day be given the opportunity to be the Director of the Observatory," Dr Lidman said.

"Siding Spring is not only a world class observatory, it is a place where we can inspire students to learn, conduct research and become the astronomers of the future."