Herstmonceux – 2024 March 2nd
Herstmonceux – 2024 March 2nd

Herstmonceux – 2024 March 2nd

Visit to Observatory Science Centre at Herstmonceux

It was about 10 years ago that members of the OAS last made a group visit to the telescopes at Herstmonceux in East Sussex and out of the 16 members who made the trip on Saturday 2nd March 2024 most had not been before.

In the intervening years The Observatory Science Centre has introduced new exhibits and exhibitions, but the six domes still house the same equipment as before.

Dome A The Thompson 30-inch reflecting telescope
Dome B The 36-inch Yapp reflecting telescope
Dome C The Hewitt camera
Dame D The 13-inch Astrographic refractor
Dome E The Thompson 26-inch refractor
Dome F The 38-inch Congo Schmidt

We travelled by minibus plus one car and arrived mid-morning. We had arranged a private tour of two of the domes where we were given a brief history of the site plus an overview of past scientific achievements and research undertaken there.

The observatory at Herstmonceux was established to house telescopes previously installed at Greenwich. With deteriorating observing conditions in London it was announced in 1946 that the Royal Greenwich Observatory (RGO) would move to a new facility at Herstmonceux. The transfer of telescopes began in 1947 and by 1958 the new RGO was fully operational. The existing telescopes were joined in 1967 by the giant 98-inch Issac Newton Telescope (INT) which was housed in a separate dome south of the main complex.

Unfortunately Herstmonceux is not a good astronomical site in terms of weather conditions and eventually a decision was taken to move the INT. In1979 the telescope was dismantled and rebuilt at the new ‘Roque de los Muchachos Observatory’ on the Canary Island of La Palma.

Following our private tour we had lunch in the on site cafe and then visited the various exhibits and exhibitions. Thankfully the cold weather and heavy showers in the morning gave way to a warmer, sunny afternoon. It was an enjoyable day out and we left around 3pm for our journey home.

Prepared by Jim Worthington Mar 2024