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000 100 104 237 R T.1972.19

Hand-coloured aquatint of the Calton Hill Observatory by Robert Barker in 1790.

Observatory Sites & Networks Since 1780

Hand-coloured aquatint of the Calton Hill Observatory by Robert Barker in 1790.

Observatory Sites & Networks Since 1780.

This AHRC Network Grant is a collaboration between Royal Museums Greenwich and National Museums Scotland. Discover more about the Observatory Sites and Networks since 1780. project.

This research networking project consisted of four workshops that brought together UK and international scholars who research observatory histories with curators, educators, astronomers and others who work within relevant sites today.

Schmidt telescope by Cox, Hargreaves and Thomson, England, 1951 (T.2010.31)

What did the project do?

It aimed to inspire future collaborative research into the collections, archive material and architecture of historic observatories and to provide support and inspiration for curatorial colleagues as we consider the long-term legacy of these sites of astronomical heritage and explore how best to bring their stories to life for future audiences.

The Shortt Free-pendulum Clock (T.1950.10 A).

Workshop themes

Absorbing, adapting and influencing new technologies

December 2021, online

Explored the processes by which new disciplines, techniques and instrumentation were taken up within observatories in the 19th and 20th centuries and how they were influenced by local, national, imperial and international contexts.

Living and working at the observatory

March 2022, Cambridge

Considered observatories as workplaces and homes, investigating the experiences and opportunities of the men, women and children connected to them, from directors and assistants to families and hired labour.

Historic observatory networks

June 2022, Edinburgh

Explored connections between observatories, which relied on the circulation of knowledge, texts, instruments and people, and the relationships between national, provincial, colonial and amateur observatories.

Contemporary observatory networks

September 2022, Armagh

Focussed on current opportunities and challenges in the preservation and interpretation of observatory sites, learning from previous experience and drawing on the histories explored in the previous workshops.

An astronomical photographic plate, duplicated from originals taken by the UK Schmidt telescope in Australia © STFC and AAT Board (T.2007.281)

Cambridge University Library

Royal Observatory Edinburgh

Armagh Observatory

Planetarium Funder: AHRC Network Grant

Principal Investigator - Dr Louise Devoy, Senior Curator, Royal Observatory Greenwich

Co-Investigator - Dr Rebekah Higgitt, Principal Curator of Science, National Museums Scotland

Project contact

Email icon Dr Rebekah Higgitt
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