A new dawn for the Keele Earth and Space Observatory

The Keele Earth and Space Observatory

Posted on 29 January 2010

Keele University’s historic observatory has been refurbished in a major transformation designed to open up the natural sciences to a wider audience.                               

The observatory has evolved from a centre of scientific research and amateur astronomy to one which will be by used by a wider range of visitors to increase the public understanding of science.

The Keele Earth and Space Observatory will be officially re-opened by Lord Rees of Ludlow, Astronomer Royal and president of the Royal Society (which celebrates its 350th anniversary this year), on Tuesday, February 2.

The £360,000 transformation includes the refurbishment of the existing observatory and telescopes, and an extension to the lecture room and its teaching and presentation facilities. It has been funded by the Wolfson Foundation, alumni donations to the Keele Key Fund and Keele University.

The centre aims to raise people’s awareness of science while continuing its long-standing commitment to teaching and outreach. Visitors will be able to experience practical examples of physical and earth sciences and astronomy, using equipment dating from the 19th century to the present day.

The original observatory at Keele was built in 1962 and was established to house the historic Grubb telescope, which was built in Oxford in 1873 and used by Einstein on a visit to Oxford.

Fundraising officer Robin Cross said: “The Keele Observatory had been showing its age for some time and was in a poor state, with leaking domes, rotting window frames and a lack of disabled access among the many issues it faced.

“The refurbishment and re-equipping of the facilities provides an exciting, safe and attractive environment in which organised groups, businesses, schools and educators can enjoy a ‘hands on’ experience into the research activities in the physical sciences, astronomy, earth sciences and the environment.”

Professor Nye Evans, of Keele’s astrophysics group, said: “The Observatory at Keele has a long tradition of exciting both youngsters and adults from the area. We anticipate that this exciting new facility will enhance their experience, and continue the strong links we have with the community.”