Observatories: Aberdeenshire


Castle Hill Observatory (1781-92), Marischal College,  demolished 1796.
Founded by Professor Patrick Copland who raised Aberdeen Town Council and government funds. Built on a corner of the city ramparts, three rooms, two with conical roofs, turning, and with aperture. Principal instruments a Kenneth McCulloch 2-foot quadrant, a Dollond 2¾-inch achromat of 46-inch focal length, and a Ramsden 3-inch aperture 4-foot transit; later a 5-foot Hearne Newtonian, two of them donated by Lord Bute. A teaching observatory, the most active observer Andrew Mackay c.1785-92.
For definitive history: see Reid 1982; Howse 1986.

Cromwell Tower Observatory (1860s- ), King’s College quadrangle, Aberdeen University, Aberdeen. The permanent observatory was first equipped with a 3.75-inch refracting telescope by Ross and used by Sir David Gill.  This telescope has now now retired to the college museum and replaced with a modern Meade 10-inch LX200 SCT (Stroobant 1936).

Dun Echt Observatory (1872-88), a private observatory founded by Lord Lindsay 12 miles from Aberdeen, in 1884 it was “one of the best equipped observatories existing”. Not the least of its achievements was to train and introduce David Gill to the astronomical world. In 1872 its 15-inch Grubb refractor was the same size as Vienna’s, and had a large chronograph and Grubb spectroscope. These were supplemented by a 12-inch Browning reflector, and two 6-inch refractors. The 8½-inch Simms transit instrument, reversible, with 8 microscopes, was the same supplied to Cambridge Observatory. Crawford also purchased a 4-inch Repsold heliometer, with all the improvements learned from the difficulties with the Radcliffe instrument of 1849 in Oxford, and other improvements suggested by Struve; it was on a Cooke mount. was available for precision measurement.
In 1888 when the London government contemplated terminating the Royal Observatory on Calton Hill, Lord Lindsay gave the whole of his equipment on condition that a new observatory be built.
The staff were Dr Ralph Copeland, 1881, previously at Birr; 1877-85 Jacob G. Lohse, who moved on to Wrigglesworth’s Observatory, Scarborough; 1874-82 Henry C. Carpenter, who moved to Oxford. – see Lindsay, Earl of Crawford above

King’s College Observatory (1797-c.1840), University of Aberdeen.  The Castle Hill, Marischal College instruments on the roof of the College building.

Marischal College Observatory, (c.1798-1837), the refounded observatory, on top of the College building, demolished 1827. It housed the instruments from the old Castle Hill Observatory.

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