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Observatory Visit

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Ben Parsons    Y-Block         Norman Lockyer Observatory Visit

Norman Lockyer Observatory Visit


The Norman Lockyer Observatory, based outside Sidmouth South Devon, is an historic working optical observatory and an educational centre for science, mainly concentrating in the fields of astronomy, meteorology, amateur radio and sciences of the coast and countryside. It is operated by The Norman Lockyer Observatory Society, a registered charity, and is staffed entirely by unpaid volunteers, many of whom are retired scientists. The Observatory was established in 1912 by Sir Joseph Norman Lockyer to continue his astronomical research when the South Kensington Observatory was closed.  Now it provides a facility at which the general public and eccentrics alike may participate in projects and pursue recreational study of science in a practical way. The Hill Observatory was intended to continue research into the Sun’s effect on the Earth’s climate, and the spectral classification of stars. By 1913 solar research had commenced using the Kensington 10-inch twin tube refractor which had been brought from South Kensington.

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Refracting Telescopes use a lens to gather light and bring the image to the eyepiece. These are the type of instruments that most people think of when they think of a telescope. They are fairly maintenance free and generally provide superb images of the moon, planets, star clusters and general sky gazing. They tend to be smaller in aperture than other types so they are not as good for viewing fainter sky objects such as galaxies and nebulae.image02.jpgimage03.jpg

The refractor telescope uses a lens to gather and focus light. The first telescopes built were refractors. Most small telescopes sold in gift shops are refractors.


  1. Refractor telescopes are rugged. After the initial alignment, their optical system is more resistant to misalignment than the reflector telescopes.
  2. The glass surface inside the tube is sealed from the atmosphere so it rarely needs cleaning.
  3. Since the
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2. How well the light passes through the lens varies with the wavelength of the light. Ultraviolet light does not pass through the lens at all.

3. How well the light passes through decreases as the thickness of the lens increases.

4. It is difficult to make a glass lens with no imperfections inside the lens and with a perfect curvature on both sides of the lens.

5. The objective lens can be supported only at the ends. The glass lens will sag under its own weight.

Other uses for refractive telescopes are for some types of binoculars and telescopic rifle sights are the most common uses than telescopes for star-gazing.





Staff at Norman Lockyer Observatory

Pictures: Kensington Telescope and its dome are my own.

Birds eye photo of Observatory from   http://www.projects.ex.ac.uk/nlo/welcome.htm

 Graph Image from http://www.astro.washington.edu/labs/clearinghouse/labs/Spectclass/images/blackbody.jpg

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