Category Archives: Astronews

ARC grant success for USQ astrophysics

USQ astrophysics staff are investigators on new Australian Research Council grants for 2019 as follows:

A dedicated telescope to study the interiors of stars from their oscillations. LE190100036, $159,000 Led by USQ’s Professor Robert Wittenmyer

A robotic telescope leveraging global science from Veloce. LE190100050, $500,000.
Led by Macquarie University’s Chris Schwab and including USQ’s Brad Carter and Rob Wittenmyer

For more details see:


NASA’s TESS telescope has discovered two new Earth-like planets – and USQ is involved

As noted in the following article, NASA’s TESS telescope has discovered two new Earth-like planets – a “super-Earth” and a “hot Earth” less than 60 light years away:

USQ astronomers are on the relevant discovery papers:


Festival of Astronomy wraps up for 2018

2018’s USQ Festival of Astronomy attracted many hundreds of people to talks at Toowoomba, Brisbane and Gold Coast venues, and dozens of junior astronomers to a “build a planet” workshop in Toowoomba.

The Festival was a notable success thanks to the efforts of USQ’s Dr Carolyn Brown, Karlee Kuzma, Jake Clark, Matthew Mengel, Duncan Wright, Jonti Horner and others, as well as our eminent speakers Dr Jessie Christiansen (NASA Exoplanet Science Institute, USA), Dr Duane Hamacher (Monash Uni. and USQ), and A/Prof Annette Lee (St. Cloud State University, USA).

As for 2019 details are yet to be advised but we do note that July 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the first human landing on the Moon…


US College students visit USQ and produce an exoplanet paper!

Over the last few months a group of US College students (Daniel Johns, Connor Marti, Madison Huff, Jacob McCann) visiting USQ for the northern summer have worked with a US team led by A/Prof Rob Wittenmyer to produce the following paper now available on

Revised Exoplanet Radii and Habitability Using Gaia Data Release 2
Daniel Johns, Connor Marti, Madison Huff, Jacob MCann, Robert A. Wittenmyer, 
Jonathan Horner, Duncan J. Wright

Welcome to Dr Brett Addison

The new USQ Centre for Astrophysics welcome Dr Brett Addison as a Research Fellow (Astrophysics) working on Mt Kent Observatory’s MINERVA-Australis exoplanet search and characterization project led by USQ’s A/Prof Rob Wittenmyer. Brett comes to us from Mississippi State University where worked as a postdoctoral research astronomer. You can check out Brett’s website at


First light for MINERVA-Australis

Mt Kent Observatory’s MINERVA-Australis exoplanet search and characterization facility has achieved first light with its CCD imager and photometer and spectrograph, with early tests indicating it meets or exceeds the required specifications. The MINERVA-Australis project is led by A/Prof Rob Wittenmyer with key team members including Dr Duncan Wright, Dr Matthew Mengel and Dr Brett Addison. Further updates will be provided in coming months.

Research Fellow (Astrophysics)

The Astrophysics Research Group at the University of Southern Queensland invites applications for a Research Fellow (Astrophysics) to join a dynamic team to conduct research on the development of instrumentation and the execution of observations using USQ’s MINERVA
-Australis telescope array located in southern Queensland.
MINERVA-Australis is a forthcoming array of 0.7m automated telescopes dedicated to the detection and characterisation of exoplanets using high-cadence, highly-precise radial velocity and photometric measurements. The primary aim of the MINERVA-Australis project is to perform follow-up observations of planet candidates detected by the forthcoming NASA Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) space mission.
A Research Fellow is expected to make a significant contribution to the research effort
of the University, particularly in regard to meeting specific research objectives defined in relevant research contracts, and to assist with the training of postgraduate research students

For more information see or,CurBID,JobListID,jobsListKey,JobID&lid=98196590098


PhD scholarships (Astronomical and Space Sciences)

PhD Scholarships – Astronomical and Space Sciences, USQ

The University of Southern Queensland (USQ) is calling for PhD scholarship applications from Domestic and International students to join the USQ Astrophysics Group.

Our research aims to advance understanding of the shared evolution of stars and planets, and the implications for life. We use observational and computational approaches to discover and characterise exoplanets, investigate the formation and evolution of our Solar system, and study young, active stars and their planetary systems. USQ’s Astrophysics Group has grown rapidly and now comprises 14 staff, over 20 PhD students and a global network of over 20 adjuncts, working collaboratively with leading astronomical institutions worldwide.

USQ operates Mt Kent Observatory at a Darling Downs dark-sky site with multiple modern remote-access telescopes and high-speed Internet access. USQ is constructing a dedicated leading-edge planet finding facility called MINERVA-Australis that will provide dedicated follow-up to NASA’s TESS mission launching in 2018. Staff and students also access major Australian and international observatories for their research, and extensive eResearch facilities are provided, including a modern High Performance Computing cluster and supported access to national computing infrastructure.

USQ offers a choice of two locations for prospective students. Toowoomba is a pleasant and affordable regional city some 90 minutes drive from Brisbane, and offers direct flights to capital cities. Alternatively, USQ’s new Springfield campus offers a modern setting under 40 minutes by train from central Brisbane and excellent road access to the Gold and Sunshine Coasts.


The Astronomical and Space Sciences PhD Scholarship is available for Domestic (Australian citizen or permanent resident, or New Zealand citizens) and International students as follows:

  • Domestic students, on-campus or external studying full-time: Successful applicants will be allocated a Research Training Program (RTP) place with funds covering the payment of tuition fees, and the provision of a living allowance of AUD$30,000 per annum. The period of support is 3 years.
  • International students, on-campus studying full-time: Successful applicants studying on-campus full-time will have their tuition fees paid for, and receive a living allowance between AUD$20,000 to AUD$30,000 per annum. The period of support is 3 years.
  • International students, studying external full-time or part-time: Successful applicants receive a scholarship that covers the full payment of tuition fees for the standard duration of the PhD program.

Living allowance (stipend) payments are made fortnightly.

Funds for travel, computing, publishing and other relevant needs are available, and opportunities exist for income supplementation via casual teaching duties.

Research student professional development is supported through USQ’s ReDTrain program and its engagement in the professional support and development offered by the Astronomical Society of Australia.


To be eligible applicants must:

  • have a qualification regarded by USQ to be equivalent, or at higher level to a Bachelor Degree with First Class Honours
  • be an International or domestic student (Australian or New Zealand citizen or Australian permanent resident)
  • be eligible to be enrolled full-time in the PhD program at USQ. Part-time enrolment is available for International students studying externally
  • not be in receipt of similar funding from the Australian Government.


Applications including all supporting documentation must be received by the closing date.

Scholarships are not transferable to other students in any circumstances.

The scholarship will be forfeited if the recipient cancels his or her enrolment in the program, or fails to enroll.

Subject to student visa conditions, a student is permitted to undertake paid work however this must not interfere with the student’s study program.

Selection criteria

The Astronomical and Space Sciences PhD scholarship will be awarded on the basis of academic merit and relevance of your research topic.

How to apply

To apply for this scholarship, applicants must scan and forward as one PDF attachment the following documentation to

  • Astronomical and Space Sciences PhD scholarship application form
  • a Preliminary Research Thesis Topic Proposal (DOC 78KB)
  • a curriculum vitae
  • education qualifications (testamur and academic transcripts for all undergraduate and postgraduate awards)
  • documentation confirming citizenship
  • a list of any research publications.

To ensure your scholarship application is assessed, scanned copies of the above documentation must be forwarded as one attachment to the Office of Research Graduate Studies (ORGS):

The ORGS also recommends that applicants commence the admission process. For admission instructions, please refer to Application steps.

Closing date

Applications close Friday 29 September 2017.

Further information

For more information and contact details please visit us online at

The information on this page is subject to change.