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A telescope which has helped to educate two generations of astronomers at the Royal Observatory Edinburgh (ROE) will soon be heading south to a new home with the Mid-Kent Astronomical Society.
The ‘20 inch’ telescope has been used by the University of Edinburgh’s Institute for Astronomy for teaching since 1967, and is being replaced with a new £40,000 state-of-the-art telescope during refurbishment of the Observatory on Blackford Hill. The old telescope (still in full working order) was offered as a gift to any group who could make use of it for teaching or public outreach. After reviewing more than a dozen submissions from groups around the UK and abroad, the bid from the Mid-Kent Astronomical Society was selected.
The Society plans to install the telescope in the James Irwin Observatory in the grounds of Canterbury Academy and Adult Education Centre on the outskirts of the city. The observatory was opened by the Apollo 15 astronaut, James Irwin, in 1990.
The society has an ambitious programme to refurbish the telescope, equip it with new instruments and use it for public observing, and in support of science teachers delivering astronomy in local schools. The Society’s plans include providing disabled access by making live viewing possible in the ground floor warm-room and providing access to observing sessions via the internet.