Preston is now a little bit closer to a galaxy far, far, away with the unveiling of a new super telescope.Advertisement
The Alston Observatory, out towards Grimsargh, has a new £200,000 lens and is the third largest telescope in the UK.
Measuring 0.7m the Altitude-Azimuth reflecting telescope allows detailed shots of the Moon, Orion, Jupiter and spiral galaxies have already been snapped.
Bought by the University of Central Lancashire, the telescope is the largest of its kind at a university in the North of England.
Director of the Jeremiah Horrocks Institute Derek Ward-Thompson said: “This is such a unique telescope because of its sheer size. Where a smaller telescope can see planets and the moon, this can see distant galaxies, nebulae and ‘deep sky objects’ so it’s very exciting. In one picture we have seen a so-called ‘jet’ from a black hole at centre of a distant galaxy.
“It’s also special because it will be used by our undergraduates rather than postgraduates and PhD students. It’s a huge draw for new students to know they will be using such a fantastic scope on a regular basis for their undergraduate studies.”
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The telescope is dedicated to astronomy lecturer Moses Holden who was a founder of Preston’s Institute for the Diffusion of Knowledge back in 1828.
A plaque in his memory was unveiled by biographer Stephen Halliwell.
The telescope, which took months to install, is also to be used by local community groups and schools.
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Professor Ward-Thompson said: “Astronomy is very popular and as such we do a lot of outreach work with schools and children’s clubs, such as the Brownies and Cubs, but also with local astronomical groups and societies. This new telescope means we can show even more of the universe to lots of interested parties.”
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