Behind-the-Scenes @ University of London Observatory

Friday 28th November 2014 @ 19:00

Dr Mike Dwortsky, Former Director of University of London Observatory

A private tour to one of the best-equipped astronomical facilities in the UK with introductory lecture followed by a full tour of the telescopes.


The University of London Observatory (ULO) in Mill Hill is a hidden joy for amateur astronomers and stargazers of all ages. Although it is a private teaching and research establishment, Friends have been able to secure a private tour for the evening of Friday 28 November 2014.

It seems that most people would like to travel there independently so we will not be providing return travel by coach from Imperial College London, South Kensington campus as there has been very little take-up.

At its opening in 1929, ULO was a research institute, but after the Second World War practical astronomical teaching at UCL was moved from Gower Street to the Observatory. Over the years better and larger research instruments at good-quality sites were provided nationally or internationally, and the emphasis of at ULO slowly shifted from reasearch to teaching, with student numbers increasing from eight in 1949 to about 100 today. However, Observatory staff continue to pursue research activities, often involving undergraduate students in project work. Many of today's large research telescopes are under the direction of scientists who made their first (and often second) steps in astronomy at ULO.

The Behind-the-Scenes event will comprise of a short introductory lecture followed by a full tour of the telescopes and facilities.

If weather permits, visitors will be given the opportunity to view the sky through the Fry telescope - an 8-inch refractor with a focal length of 126 inches. It was made in 1862 by the celebrated telescope maker Thomas Cooke, and was presented to the Observatory in January 1930 by Mr. H. R. Fry of Barnet, who met most of the cost of its reconditioning and re-erection at this site. The Fry is used extensively for student instruction and for solar and planetary observations.

Earlier this year, astronomers at ULO announced the discovery of a supernova called 2014J, the closest star explosion to Earth in 27 years!

The full timings of this event will be announced nearer the time.

N.B. – Be aware that the site has gravelled grounds and steep stairways so do consider this when booking.

Venue: ULO, Mill Hill, London

Campus Map reference n/a
on the Imperial College London Map