Observatory reopens on its 90th anniversary after major refurbishment
Keen stargazers and local astronomy enthusiasts have joined University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) staff to celebrate the grand reopening of the Moor Park Observatory on its 90th anniversary.
The Observatory, which closed its doors in 2000, has undergone a £100,000 renovation and it will now be used to allow community groups to discover the sky above Preston city centre.
UCLan Vice-Chancellor Professor Mike Thomas said: “The University’s motto is ‘from the earth to the sun’ so to have the chance to put the Observatory back together again was just something we couldn’t have said no to.
“This reopening and the planned use of these facilities ties in with UCLan’s mission of continued work with the wider community. This resource will have an impact on local children and people of all ages who are interested in astronomy.”
"The University’s motto is ‘from the earth to the sun’ so to have the chance to put the Observatory back together again was just something we couldn’t have said no to."
The refurbishment has seen a major overhaul of the building to bring it up-to-date with current health, safety and accessibility standards. All that remains from before is the walls supporting the building and the telescope inside.
Display cabinets are a prominent feature in the facility and it boasts an archive of records, papers and sketches by astronomer George James Gibbs. Photographs of the Observatory, its staff from the 1920s and 30s and meteorological data are also available to view.
The telescope, which is an eight inch refractor dating from the 19th Century, is at the heart of the Observatory and is being professionally cleaned and refurbished.
Professor Derek Ward-Thompson, Director of the Jeremiah Horrocks Institute of Mathematics, Physics and Astronomy at UCLan, said: “This has been a fantastic day and everybody’s come out to show their support for this really exciting outreach project. It’s bringing astronomy and science into the community for everyone to enjoy.
“UCLan students will now be helping us to run future outreach events using the telescope to observe the sun, moon and some of the brighter stars. Our intention is to make this a visitor’s centre for local community groups and schools and it will be invaluable in terms of science education.”
"This has been a fantastic day and everybody’s come out to show their support for this really exciting outreach project. It’s bringing astronomy and science into the community for everyone to enjoy."
The Observatory has been given a new lease of life thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund, in partnership with Preston County Council.
Ivan Wadeson, Heritage Lottery Fund North West Committee Member, commented: “It is wonderful to see the Observatory reopened and it’s fantastic to see the wider work going on in Moor Park and the benefit this brings to the residential local communities.”
A plaque was unveiled at the launch event to mark 90 years since its opening on 29 June 1927. The Moor Park Observatory is one of two observatories which are purpose-built teaching and public outreach facilities of the Jeremiah Horrocks Institute at UCLan. The other Observatory is an out of the city centre facility at Alston.
Visit the UCLan Flickr gallery for photos from the event.
From l-r Councillor Peter Rankin, Leader of Preston City Council; Professor Mike Thomas, UCLan Vice-Chancellor; Councillor Brian Rollo, Mayor of Preston; Ivan Wadeson, Heritage Lottery Fund North West Committee Member; Abdul Qureshi, Lancashire Council of Mosques; Mayoress Trisha Rollo; and Professor Derek Ward-Thompson, Director of UCLan’s Jeremiah Horrocks Institute.