New observatory dome gets Sidmouth town council grant

PUBLISHED: 11:35 10 March 2011

Cllr Peter Sullivan from the Sidmouth Town Council presents David Strange with a cheque for £10,000 at the Norman Lockyer Observatory on Friday. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref shs 1055-10-11SH

Cllr Peter Sullivan from the Sidmouth Town Council presents David Strange with a cheque for £10,000 at the Norman Lockyer Observatory on Friday. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref shs 1055-10-11SH

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A £10,000 grant is presented to Sidmouth's Norman Lockyer Observatory

A GRANT of £10,000, made by Sidmouth Town Council towards the cost of erecting another telescope dome at Norman Lockyer Observatory, was presented on Friday.

Council chairman, Councillor Peter Sullivan, handed over the grant to David Strange, observatory chairman.

Mr Sullivan said: “This is a one-off grant. I think the new dome will mean expansion of the facilities for the area, which is good for tourism.

“There are not many facilities like this in the whole of the UK. They have a telescope ready to go in, which they are unable to use at the moment, so when they are put together it will be a very good facility.”

Mr Strange, who donated the 20inch F4 reflecting telescope to the observatory, said the £60,000 needed to build the new dome was now in place and building work had already started.

“The walls are already eight feet high and it will be finished later this summer, although we will probably have an official opening during our centenary year next year,” he said.

Mr Strange added: “The campaign has been very successful. We have had money donated from the people of Sidmouth and it has all gone very well. I would like to thank Bardon Aggregates for donating the concrete for the base.”

Mr Strange said interest in the stars and universe was growing, with sales of telescopes “blossoming” since Professor Brian Cox’s TV series.

“We did a Stargazing Live with BBC2 in January and had a lot of interest when we ran an introduction to astronomy course with 33 turning up, and there has been greater interest in people wanting to join,” he said.

The new dome and telescope will enable people to see into deep space and observe spiral galaxies.

*Tomorrow, Saturday, a family day at the observatory from 10am to 4pm will have a talk about aliens, a physics display by Colyton Grammar School, a professional storyteller at the Planetarium and BBC’s science correspondent David Whitehouse on hand.

Tickets are £5 for adults and free for children.

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