Northern Tasmania has some of Australia's best star-gazing opportunities free from the obstruction of city lights, and the region's school students will now have the opportunity to get an even closer look.
Astronomers from the Australian National University are this week presenting Riverside High School, Exeter High School and Ulverstone Secondary College each with powerful eight-inch Dobsonian telescopes.
The public could also get the chance to see the stars closer than ever before when the schools host their own star-gazing events.
The telescopes are being provided as part of the Scientists Taking Astronomy to Regional Schools program, or STARS, funded by the federal government.
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The program also involves working astronomers and PhD candidates conducting workshops at the schools and holding public events.
Dr Brad Tucker, of the Centre for Excellence for All-Sky Astrophysics in 3D and the ANU, said it was hoped the program would encourage more young people to consider further studies in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
"In areas like the north of Tasmania, away from city lights, the skies are very dark and filled with stars everywhere, a truly breathtaking sight," he said.
"But by using a good quality telescope you can see so much more. We hope that the students, schools and the communities will be able to make good, continuing use of the ones we bring. I hope they go on to develop detailed and inspiring astronomy projects for years to come, as well as a passion and love of science."
One of the architects of the program, Dr Delese Brewster, said regional students did not have as much access to STEM professionals and specialist programs compared with city students, but they did have one important advantage: a clearer sky.
"Our countryside has big skies with minimal light pollution. This program aims to inspire children across Australia to lookup and explore the universe," she said.