Permission sought for £70k extension at Sidmouth's Norman Lockyer Observatory

PUBLISHED: 06:30 27 November 2017

The proposed plans for the Norman Lockyer Observatory.

The proposed plans for the Norman Lockyer Observatory.

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Plans to build a £70,000 extension at Sidmouth's Norman Lockyer Observatory could allow more experiments to take place than ever before.

The Norman Lockyer Observatory. Picture: Simon Horn.The Norman Lockyer Observatory. Picture: Simon Horn.

An application was submitted, on behalf of the observatory, to East Devon District Councillast week.

The proposals include a new classroom, an extension to the Lockyer Technology Centre and a new disabled access ramp.

The observatory is the home of a number of historic and modern telescopes, a planetarium and a wealth of astronomical knowledge and information.

At its core, the site is made up of three Grade 2 listed buildings which were built at the start of the 20th century.

One of the domes at The Norman Lockyer Observatory. Picture:Terry IfeOne of the domes at The Norman Lockyer Observatory. Picture:Terry Ife

Over the years a number of extensions have been added, promoting amateur astronomy, meteorology, radio astronomy, and science education.

It is also the home of a very active amateur astronomical society.

David Strange, Norman Lockyer Observatory chairman, said there were three aspects to the proposed development which he thought would cost in the region of £70,000.

But, they planned to start fundraising, to cover the cost of the project, in the next year.

David said: “We are hoping to build a new classroom on the north of the site which will have several purposes.

“The society is growing and we have lots of young people and not enough room to teach them.

“It will also be used as a function room for the astronomy fair and for hands-on science demonstrations for Sidmouth Science Festival and for visiting schools, scouts and brownies.

“We also want to extend the Lockyer Technology Centre which was built in 2012 – we use low frequency radio waves to help detect meteors and to monitor the sun. It is also used to help measure the earth’s magnetic field

“We hope to double the size of the centre which will mean we will be able to do more scientific experiments.

“Hopefully it will be up and running in a couple of years.”

David said that, if planning permission is granted, the observatory would not only be able to extend its reach, but also provide better facilities to help with education.

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