The Parkes Observatory (also known informally as "The Dish") is a radio telescope observatory, located 20 kilometres north of the town of Parkes, New South Wales. It was one of several radio antennas used to receive live, television images of the Apollo 11 moon landing on 20 July 1969. After 50 years of operation, the telescope's scientific contributions has led to the Parkes Observatory to be described as "the most successful scientific instrument ever built in Australia".

The main dish is the 64-metre (210 ft) movable dish telescope, the second largest dish in the Southern Hemisphere.

After its completion it has operated almost continuously to the present day. The center part of the dish consists smooth metal plates, while the outer part of the dish is made of fine metal mesh. The moving part of the telescope weights 1000 tonnes – as much as two Boeing 747s – but it is not fixed to the tower, and instead sits atop it with its own weight holding it down. In this set up, it takes 15 minutes for the dish to do a 360 degree rotation, and five minutes to get to its maximum tilt of 60 degrees.

The receiving cabin is located at the focus of the parabolic dish, supported by three struts 27-metre (89 ft) above the dish. The cabin contains multiple radio and microwave detectors, which can be switched into the focus beam for different science observations.

Apollo 11 broadcast - When Buzz Aldrin switched on the TV camera on the Lunar Module, three tracking antennas received the signals simultaneously, one located in California, another at Honeysuckle Creek near Canberra, and the 64-metre dish at Parkes.

In the first few minutes of the broadcast, NASA switched between antennas searching for the best quality picture. After about nine minutes into the broadcast, NASA decided the signal from Parkes was so superior that NASA stayed with Parkes as the source of the TV for the remainder of the 2.5 hour broadcast. 

ExtraTerrestrial - In February 1995, the researchers began a six-month search for extraterrestrial intelligence by analysing patterns in radio signals of 800 nearby stars, similar to ours.

The Dish - In the year 2000, the Parkes telescope featured in a fictional movie about man's first steps on the moon. Actors played cricket on the dish, using a tennis ball to not damage the dish surface.

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