Dr Nick Lomb (retired December 2009)
What is your speciality area?
By training I am an astronomer, but my full official title is curator of astronomy, timekeeping, navigation, meteorology, surveying and the history of Sydney Observatory.
How long have you been working at the Museum?
I was acquired by the Museum, sort of came with the furniture, when the Museum took over the running of Sydney Observatory, on 1 July 1982. By that time I had been at the Observatory for over three years, having started there on 19 February 1979.
What is your favourite object in the collection?
I have many favourites and it’s hard to reduce the list to just one. There is the historic 29-cm lens telescope still being regularly used in Sydney Observatory’s south dome. There is the Earnshaw 520 chronometer used by the explorer Matthew Flinders in the first circumnavigation of Australia and with a fascinating subsequent history. And I cannot ignore the beautiful repeating circle from Parramatta Observatory made by the firm with the wonderful name of Reichenbach, Utzschneider und Liebherr in Munich, Germany in the early 1800s. Then there is the Strasburg Clock model that is demonstrated every hour at the Museum.
What piece of research or exhibition are you most proud of in your career at the Museum?
The last exhibition is always the favourite. Currently this is the From Earth to the Universe exhibition that opened on 11 September 2009 at the Powerhouse Museum (most of my previous exhibitions have been at Sydney Observatory). The exhibition looks fantastic, but subtly incorporates a fair amount of astronomical information. As visitors experience the journey from the solar system through the neighbourhood of our own galaxy and then to the realms beyond they pick up information on astronomy and our Universe. So far the public and Museum staff reaction to the exhibition has been enthusiastic.