• Academic
Staff Record
Photo of Michael Ashley

Michael Ashley


+61(2) 9385 5465


+61(2) 9385 6060


Subjects Taught: 


Michael teaches all years from 1st to Honours, and PhD. He currently teaches first year physics, computational and experimental physics, energy and environmental physics, stellar structure and the interstellar medium, and a mechanical engineering class on wind turbine design. He has previously taught classical mechanics, electronics, programming in C and Python, and a general studies class on artificial intelligence. He has supervised over 45 Physics Honours and 4th year engineering projects.


Chair, School of Physics Staff Committee


  • M.Sc. Cal. Tech.
  • B.Sc., Ph.D. ANU

Research Interests: 

  • Antarctic astronomy: this is the last great frontier for ground-based astronomy. Our group at UNSW is leading the Australian push to establish a large optical/infrared telescope on the antarctic plateau. Twelve of our graduate students have been to Antarctica, several have wintered over.
  • Terahertz astronomy from Antarctica: I am collaborating with Craig Kulesa at the University of Arizona on a 0.6m THz telescope at Ridge A in Antarctica.
  • Instrumentation & computing: my long term interest has been in electronics and computing (both hardware and software) with the goal of building new and interesting astronomical instruments.


CCD readout method, Ashley, M. C. B., 2003, Australian patent 759445. 

Honours, Awards and Memberships: 

Matchmaker for the Climate Science Rapid Response Team, connecting journalists and government officials with climate scientists around the world.

Member, National Committee for Antarctic Research

Member, Optical Telescope Advisory Committee to Astronomy Australia Limited

Member, Scientific Committee for Antarctic Research Astronomy and Astrophysics from Antarctica Special Research Program

Member of the board of ACAMAR, the Australian-Chinese Consortium for Astrophysical Research

Member, International Astronomical Union

Member, Astronomical Society of Australia


Selected Publications: 

Shi, S.-C., Paine, S., Yao, Q.-J., Lin, Z.-H., Li, X.-X., Duan, W.-Y., Matsuo, H., Zhang, Q., Yang, J., Ashley, M. C. B., Shang, Z., Hu, Z.-W., 2016, Terahertz and Far-Infrared Windows Opened at Dome A, Antarctica, Nature Astronomy, 1038/s41550–016-0001.

Burton, M. G., Ashley, M. C. B., Braiding, C., Freeman, M., Kulesa, C., Wolfire, M. G., Hollenbach, D. J., Rowell, G., Lau, J., 2015, Extended Carbon Line Emission in the Galaxy: Searching for Dark Molecular Gas along the G328 Sightline, Astrophysical Journal, 811, 13.

Bingham, N. R., Ashley, M. C. B., 2014, Reducing noise from a Stirling micro cooler used with an InSb diode, Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE) Conference Series, 9154, 91541V

Ashley, M. C. B., 2013, The care and feeding of an Antarctic telescope, Physics Today, 66, 050000.

Ashley, M. C. B., 2013, Site characteristics of the high Antarctic plateau, IAU Symposium, 288, 15–24.

Kulesa, C. A., Ashley, M. C. B., Augarten, Y., Bonner, C. S., Burton, M. G., Bycroft, L., Lawrence, J., Lesser, D. H., Loomis, J., Luong-Van, D. M., Martin, C. L., McLaren, C., Stapleton, S., Storey, J. W. V., Swift, B. J., Tothill, N. F. H., Walker, C. K., Young, A. G., 2013, Opportunities for Terahertz Facilities on the High Plateau, IAU Symposium, 288, 256–263.

Ashley, M. C. B., Augarten, Y., Bonner, C. S., Burton, M. G., Bycroft, L., Lawrence, J. S., Luong-Van, D. M., McDaid, S., McLaren, C., Sims, G., Storey, J. W. V., 2012, PLATO-R: a new concept for Antarctic science, Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE) Conference Series, 8444

Ashley, M. C. B., Event horizon: the black hole in The Australian's climate change coverage, The Conversation, 31 August 2011.

Lawrence, J. S., Ashley, M. C. B., Tokovinin, A., and Travouillon, T., 2004,Exceptional astronomical seeing conditions above Dome C in Antarctica, Nature, 431, 278–281.