Observatories: Warwickshire

Aston University Observatory [AUOB] (c.1980s- ), Aston University Campus, established by Birmingham Astronomical Society. The fibre glass domed building is located on the roof of a facility building and houses an 8-inch SCT catadioptric telescope with a smaller refracting telescope.

Coleshill Hall Observatory [CHOC] (c.1972-1987), Coleshill Hall Hospital, Coleshill Park, established by the Chelmsley Astronomical Society – Heart of England Astronomical Society after 1988. The original structure, a run-off shed housed a 6-inch reflecting telescope.  A later domed building included a meeting room and an 8-inch reflector. The later structure was abandoned in 1987 when the hospital was sold for redevelopment – dome was sold to the Derwent Astronomical Society.

Reynold’s Harborne Observatory [RHO] (1911-1925), ‘Low Wood’, St. Marys Road, Harborne, Birmingham, established by J.H. Reynolds in the garden of his home. The circular building, topped with a 28-foot dome (extant), housed a 28-inch reflecting telescope of Reynold’s own design. Used for the photography of nebulae, it was a copy of the instrument that he provided for the Helwan Observatory in Egypt. When its 30-inch mirror was replaced by a new one by Ritchey, the original Common mirror as returned and was installed in the Harborne telescope. Light pollution, from nearby Birmingham, cut short the observatory.  It was then transferred, and re-mounted (1927), to the newly established Mt. Stromlo Observatory in Australia – destoryed in 2003 by bushfires (Maddison 2011).

Shuckburgh’s Observatory [ShO] (1791-1810), Lower Shuckburgh, established by Sir George Augustus William Shuckburgh-Evelyn at Shuckburgh Hall.  It was equipped  with a fine regulator clock by Arnold and a 4.1-inch equatorial refractor by Jesse Ramsden (1792) – the famed ‘Shuckburgh Equatorial’. After Shuckburgh’s death it passed to the Royal Observatory, Greenwich in 1811 (Shuckburgh 1793; Howse 1986, 80-1; McConnell 2007, 135-7; Hingley 2013).

Temple Observatory [TeO] (1871- ), Rugby School, Rugby, a wooden structure first erected in the garden of the mathematics & natural sciences master, James M. Wilson (1836-1931).  The telescope and observatory were purchased from Alfred Lowe. Later in 1871/2 the school obtained the famed 8¼-inch Alvan Clark equatorial (1859) formerly owned by W. R. Dawes. Due to the limitations of the original Lowe structure a new brick-built observatory (£458) was erected by 1877).  This also housed a 12⅛-inch With reflector, a 15-inch reflector, and a heliostat.  George Mitchell Seabroke followed Wilson as director. The observatory gained a world-class status for double star observations, corresponding with S.W. Burnham and Otto Struve and undertook joint observations with Joseph Gledhill – lead to A Handbook of Double Stars, with a Catalogue of Twelve Hundred Double Stars and Extensive Lists of Measures (London, Macmillan, 1879) by Crossley, Gledhill and Wilson. A programme of solar observations was also followed with exchanges with Lockyer and Hale. In recent years the observatory has been refurbished and re-opened in 2011 (Marriott 1991; Stroobant 1931).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s