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Preston’s observatory is being opened to the public again

Posted on - 7th July, 2017 - 7:00pm | Author - | Posted in - History, Moor Park, News, Parks, UCLan
The observatory had been closed off since 2000 Pic Tony Worrall
The observatory had been closed off since 2000 Pic Tony Worrall

Stargazers have been locked out of a Preston observatory for 17 years, but the stars have now aligned to let them back in.

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Moor Park Observatory – which dates back to 1927 – has seen a major refurbishment to allows its doors to be opened once more.

Closed in 2000 the observatory has been revamped by the University of Central Lancashire and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The university said it will be opening the observatory up for community groups to discover more about the sky above Preston.

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 refurbished telescope Pic: Tony Worrall
The refurbished telescope Pic: Tony Worrall

The observatory includes an eight-inch telescope dating from the 19th century, which has been professionally cleaned and refurbished.

Display cabinets have now been added showcasing records and sketches by astronomer George James Gibb.

Read more: Discover why 30,000 people were once on Moor Park

The observatory was re-opened with a launch event – unveiling a plaque to mark 90 years since the observatory opened on 29 June 1927.

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.
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.

Directory of the Jeremiah Horrocks Institute of mathematics, physics and astronomy at UCLan Professor Derek Ward-Thompson 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.”

Read more: Here’s what’s on at Moor Park this summer

Funding for the £100,000 renovation has been partly provided by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

North West committee member for the fund Ivan Wadeson said: “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.”

What do you think about the observatory being revamped? Let us know in the comments below

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