UOW astronomer leaves permanent legacy

Glen Moore retired on Friday after  helping to create centres as a fun way to learn about science. Picture: SYLVIA LIBER

Glen Moore retired on Friday after helping to create centres as a fun way to learn about science. Picture: SYLVIA LIBER

The man whose dogged determination helped Wollongong establish its own science centre and planetarium retired on Friday after 44 years employed by the University of Wollongong.

Starting this weekend, Glen Moore's focus is turning to his grandchildren and his own observatory, where he plans to make more of his own discoveries in his favourite field of astronomy.

It was that interest that sparked him on the journey into a final frontier for Australia.

He is one of three people recognised nationally for establishing the science centre movement in this country.

And Wollongong was the first with a planetarium, an observatory and laser shows.

But Mr Moore said none of that would have been achieved without a supportive community and help in high places from three University of Wollongong vice-chancellors and politicians such as former prime minister Paul Keating, former federal science minister Barry Jones and former state MP Colin Markham.

UOW Science Centre director Glen Moore inside the centre's planetarium.

UOW Science Centre director Glen Moore inside the centre's planetarium.

His wife Elizabeth Moore has also worked alongside him every step of the way.

The senior lecturer in physics started his quest wanting to build a planetarium.

But the positive reaction of his three-year-old son David during a visit to a science centre in Seattle in 1982 made him realise people of all ages were not just interested in a planetarium but science generally.

Such a facility nearly got off the ground in 1984 when a $12.5 million project was proposed for Wollongong Botanic Garden as part of a $20 million regional assistance program following the downturn in the steel industry.

But the money from the state government at the time was halved and Brandon Park was built but not the science centre.

A petition with 30,000 signatures inspired Mr Moore and other volunteers on and they managed to get hold of the old migrant hostel dining rooms and kitchen at Fairy Meadow in 1988.

When the Japanese government gave Australia money for a science centre in the national capital in 1988, Mr Moore was given some exhibits from friend and fellow Australian science centre founder Mike Gore, who had established a facility in an old school in Canberra.

Mr Keating and Mr Jones also arranged it so nations exhibiting at Expo 88 could avoid paying duty and sales tax if they donated exhibit items to Wollongong at the end of the global event.

Mr Moore was not employed at the science centre until it moved to its present site on the Wollongong Innovation Campus in 2000.

That occurred after community support was fired up after a flood destroyed exhibits in the Nissen Hut at Campus East in 1998.

"'The NSW government gave us $2 million towards the new building," he said.

"The rest of the support for the building came from the community."

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