Herstmonceux – 10th April 2010

Carole Pope writes: Twenty one members visited Herstmonceux Observatory, East Sussex which was for some years after the war the re-location site of the Royal Observatory where our President Gilbert Satterthwaite worked.

It is a very dark site with no close residential areas nearby only the castle which housed the Astronomer Royal at that time.

The observatory Domes consist of:

  • Dome A – The 30-inch Thompson Reflector (which discovered the Jupiter’s Moon Pasiphae in 1908)
  • Dome B – The 36-inch Yapp Reflector (used for photometry, spectroscopy and CCD TV)
  • Dome C – The Hewitt Camera (used to track the Blue streak missile)
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Dome D – The 13-inch Astrographic Refractor
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Dome E – The 26-inch Thompson Refractor (This has a floor which moves up and down)
  • Dome F – The Congo Schmidt and The Domes of Discovery Exhibition

We were given a talk in most of the domes about the telescopes and their past use and also a talk about how the Observatory Science Centre came into being after it ceased to be used by the Royal Observatory.

A lottery grant in recent years helped Herstmonceux to refurbish some of the telescopes.  The sky was very hazy but we managed some viewings of Mars, Venus, Saturn and some double stars.

Other fun was to be had on the hands on science exhibits and the cafeteria was opened twice for us during our visit.

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