Observatory spared in fire

4BC Nights: Staff at the Australian Astronomical Observatory at Siding Spring in western New South Wales are relieved the telescopes have been spared by a fire that tore through the area last night.

The fire has burnt 40-thousand hectares in the Warrumbungle National Park and forced the evacuation of more than 100 residents around Coonabarabran.

Dr Erik Lithander, the Acting Vice Chancellor of the Australian National University, which administers the operations of the observatory, has told Gary Hardgrave it's an important facility for Australia.