Julia Milner Visits The Parkes Observatory — Chanel Boots In Tow
The Parkes Observatory is a surreal sight, looming over a dry, rural basin some 350 kilometres west of Sydney, Australia. The 65-metre bowl of the radio telescope, translucent white over a dark metal fretwork, looks almost too vast to be supported on the cylindrical turret that houses its control room. There the flickering consoles and the tapping of computer keyboards are the only clues to its mission: combing the cosmos in search of a long- awaited signal from beyond.
Dressed in the season’s fashion, Julia Milner cuts an alien figure herself, among its banks of dials and monitors. But the observatory is close to her heart: she and her husband, Yuri Milner, are the founders of Breakthrough Listen, a global astronomical programme that searches for evidence of civilizations beyond Earth. Julia is drawn to a great dish as an aesthetic object, a unique monument of space-age architecture; and she is captivated by the question that it asks: Are we alone in the universe? Or do we have cosmic siblings?
Parkes has historical significance: it was the telescope which received the first signals from Apollo’s successful moon-landing on July 20, 1969. Should Breakthrough Listen’s quest succeed, the dish will no doubt achieve an even higher fame. For now, though, the methodical search continues. With a deep whirring that breaks the control room silence, the telescope moves into a new position, training itself onto another distant galaxy in search of faraway worlds—homes, perhaps, to alien cultures, with their own great works of science and beauty.
Photography by Steven Chee | Styling by Jess Pecoraro | Location: Parkes Observatory, New South Wales, Australia