Observatories: Hampshire

Aldershot Obsevatory [AlO] (1906- ), Rushmoor, Aldershot, established by the Aldershot military corp after the gift of a Grubb 8-inch refractor by Patrick Young Alexander, an aviation pioneer. Alexander had first offered the telescope to the city of Bath who refused the offer, instead the War Office took on the cost of providing an observatory and its upkeep.  The telescope was used to teach officiers astronavigation and was used by local members of the BAA – observations of the Great White Spot on Saturn were recorded from the observatory (WIKI).

Berthon’s Romsey Observatory [BRO] (1860-1892), Romsey, established by the Rev. Edward L. Berthon, the vicar of Romsey.  He designed and built a small wooden transit room and adjacent equatorial room that became the ‘type’ named after were Berthon lived . Its simple design with no curved parts, was popularised by George Chambers (Chambers 1890, 228-34) in print, allowing hundreds of amateurs to copy it.  It is not clear which of the many telescopes he constructed was housed at his Romsey home – 12-inch reflector [?] (Obit., MNRAS, 60 (1900), 314-6).

Clanfield Observatory  [COCH] (1960- ), Hinton Manor Lane, Clanfield, established by the Portsmouth Astronomical Group (now Hampshire [HaAG]) with an observatory at Crookhorn, Purbrook (1961), then the Swivelton Lane Observatory at Portsdown Hill (1963-88) before moving to  the Clanfield Observatory in 1972. The current observatory houses houses 12, 16 & 24-inch reflecting telescopes along with 4, 5 & 7-inch refracting telescopes in separate domes (WIKI).

Cody Astronomical Society Observatory [CASO] (1966- ), Cody Technology Park, Farnborough. Established by the Royal Aircraft Establishment for satellite tracking, the observatory houses a 6-inch Coude refractor made by Zeiss Oberkocken. It is now run by the Cody Astronomical Society – established 1998.

Drew’s Observatory [DrO] (1847-57), Winsor Terrace, Cumberland Place, Southampton, established by John Drew in the garden of his home. Equipment was a 3¼-inch (fl 42-inch) Jones transit instrument (1835),  and the ‘Beaufoy’ clock by Baker on loan from the RAS. With these he determined time very accurately, and for many years supplied it to the ships in the port. In 1847 he added a 5-foot Dollond equatorial (OG 3¾-inch). Between 1848 and 1853 he took regular meteorological observations, reported them, and was invited to become a founder member of the British Meteorological Society. Then his health began to fail (Weale 1851, 64; Weale 1854, 688-9Obit., MNRAS, 18 (1858), 98; Howse 1986, 82).

Goodacre’s Bournemouth Observatory [GBO] (1929-1938), ‘Watarah’, Leicester Road, Bournemouth, established by Walter Goodacre at his retirement home. It was equipped with a 10-inch Cooke refractor on an equatorial mount that was formerly housed at Worthington’s observatory at Four Marks near Winchester, Hants – see below. Later it was donated to the University of St Andrews and now resides at the Mills Observatory, Dundee  (Obit., JBAA, 49 (1938), 38-40; Mobberley 2018b, 345).

Knight’s Observatory [KOW] (c.1890-c.1906), Harestock Road, Winchester, established by retired Lt.-Col. [FRAS] Henry Sollers Gunning Sparks Knight in his back garden. Surviving images show a large dome (3-4 metres), but its instrumentation is unknown but was probably a refractor. His only published observations relate to the observation of Mars (Carrington 1897; Shurock 2020).

Markwick’s Boscombe Observatory [MaOB] (1905-14), Boscombe, established by E.E. Markwick for variable star and solar observations. It was equipped with a 2 3/4-inch (8cm) refractor mounted on a Wray equatorial mount and tripod. and an 8.5-inch (21.6cm) altazimuth Calver reflector and 4-inch Grubb equatorial refractor (Shears 2012c; Stroobant 1907, 41).

Naval Academy Observatory [NAOG] (c.1800s-1822), Coldharbour, Gosport, established by Dr William Burney on the premises.  It is not clear whether it was just an observing platform on the building or if it was used for private use or as a teching facility (Hutton 1815, 129; Johnson 2021, 32). 

Toothill Observatory [TOF] (c.1988- ), Toothill, nr Southampton, established by the Solent Amateur Astronomers. The run-off roof building is equipped with 6, 8 and 14-inch SCT reflecting telescopes.

Royal Naval Academy Observatory [RNAO] (c.1765-c.1830), established at the Naval Academy, Portsmouth (later Royal Naval Academy) under the leadership of William Bayley and equipped with small instruments (WIKI; Howse 1986, 80).

Swivelton Lane Observatory [SLOH] (1963-1988), Portsdown Hill, established by Portsmouth Astronomical Group (now Hampshire [HaAG]). Due to light pollution a new observatory was established at Cladfield in 1972.

Worthington’s Four Marks Observatory [WOFM] (1913-1925), Four Marks, nr. Alton, established by James H. Worthington with a 10-inch  refractor by Cooke (1871), with a visual prominence spectroscope, a 20-inch Calver reflector, adding a new 4-inch Alvan Clark refractor in 1914, and two Steinheil photoheliographs. Worthington little used his telescope spending most of his time in the United States but made it available to members of RAS & BAA – W.H. Steavenson & R.L. Waterbury were frequent visitors. After the observatory closed, the refractor was acquired by Walter Goodacre being installed at his Finchley Observatory.  Later it was purchased by St Andrew’s University, and transferred  transferred to the Mills Observatory in the early 1950s (Worthington 1914Marriott 2006; Mobberley 2018b).

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