An astronomical site near Heathcote is seeking planning approval to construct photography domes and an observatory with disabled access and a disability friendly telescope.
The Astronomical Society of Victoria has applied to Bendigo council to upgrade its site at 569 Craigs Lane, Ladys Pass, which has been used for observing central Victoria's skies since 1990.
The Leon Mow Dark Sky Site is available for use by ASV members at any time and hosts annual events that are open to the public, such as the Messier Star Party in March.
The construction of five, 1.5-metre astrophotography domes would allow members and the general public to access the scientific aspects of astronomy remotely from the site, the application said.
The observatory features onsite and portable observing systems, while the property includes amenities such as club rooms with stove, hot and cold running water, toilets and showers.
The ASV is proposing to install a new communal bunk room to match its existing accommodation, which caters for 32 members.
In correspondence with Bendigo council, the application's building designer said on average, about 30 people embark on a weekend stay and three to five people visit the 15.2-hectare site on weekdays.
A not-for-profit society formed in 1922, ASV has a membership of more than 700 people.
The use of the Heathcote dark site was made possible by former ASV member Leow Mow, who provided its funding and equipment.
Members generally bring their own telescopes and binoculars or appreciate the sky with their naked eye and the society has a 40-inch and 25-inch telescope on site.
In March 2019, the ASV unveiled the 40-inch Hubble Optics telescope after raising $750,000.
ASV president Perry Vlahos said the telescope puts Heathcote on the map as the gateway to the universe.
"I've looked through an awful number of telescopes but this view is simply unparalleled," he said.
The planning application is in the public advertising phase and a decision on whether or not a permit for the proposed works will be granted will be made in 2021.