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1965 - 70
The next few years saw many changes. The building was extended to include a toilet and Observer's room with an arm chair. Luxury! A phone was also added for safety reasons: these days, we wouldn't contemplate having working on their own, at night, with no phone. But prior to this development, this was the case in the Observatory (one lone Observer was been taken ill, staggered down the hill, and collapsed outside the Students' Union, and was taken to 'Sick Bay'). So provision of a phone was obviously a good idea, and, since then, Keele Observatory has been very safety-conscious.
The dome had originally been hand-operated: using a large wheel (see above pictures). An early and important modification was to change this to a pulley wheel, driven by a motor, as seen below. [Later, the opening and closing of the shutters was also motorised.]
On the equipment side, a 17-inch reflector made by Hindle was obtained and mounted on top of the Grubb reflector (more details on the Hindle reflector). A large pair of binoculars was obtained, giving exciting views of the sky (and, when cloudy, of the nearby towns). And a surplus aerial camera was converted to carry out wide-field stellar photography. And there was even a Keele Radio Telescope!
|The new dome wheel and motor drive|
|Projecting a solar eclipse (late 1960s?)||The binoculars|
Equipment is no use without people to use and support it, and Dr Maddison was very good at interesting local people in astronomy: particularly through the Keele astronomy evening classes (which ran from the early 1960s for over 40 years) and the Observatory public open sessions (run continuously for almost 50 years; these days, they are on Tuesday evenings and Saturday afternoons). There was also an "Astronomical Society", whose members included staff and students of the University, as well as local enthusiasts. [In 2009, there is a student "AstroSoc" and an "Observatory Crew".]
One of Ron's contacts from the Wirral (Cheshire) was to have a very significant impact on the Observatory: Mr Harry Thornton was a keen member of the Lunar Section of the British Astronomical Society, where he met Dr Maddison (Section Director). After many interesting meetings, Harry gave Ron a cheque for £2000 (equivalent to almost £25 000 in 2009). After some discussion between Ron and Harry, they agreed it would be used to purchase the optics for a new telescope. This was the next big development at the Observatory (see "The 1970s").