It’s all relative

CPS Fellows visit the Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge

Fellows of the Cambridge Philosophical Society outside the Cambridge Observatory at the Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge

Photo: Fellows of the Cambridge Philosophical Society outside the Cambridge Observatory at the Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge

Each year the The Cambridge Philosophical Society holds a number of free visits for members of the Society. Our most recent visit was to the Institute of Astronomy (IoA), Cambridge.

The University Observatory was founded in 1823 on a small site known as Gravel Hill, which had been used for gravel extraction. Our tour of the Institute of Astronomy and the Observatory was guided by Mr Mark Hurn, Information Manager and librarian at the IoA library within the Old Observatory building. The library includes a rare book room with astronomical books dating back to 1514 A.D. The dome of the Old Observatory building once contained a telescope, but is now empty. The building features on the cover of the CPS publication The Spirit of Inquiry by Susannah Gibson which celebrates the 200th anniversary of the Cambridge Philosophical Society.

Research at the department is made in a number of scientific areas, including exoplanets, stars, star clusters, cosmology, gravitational-wave astronomy, the high-redshift universe, AGN, galaxies and galaxy clusters. The Institute houses several telescopes on its site, which include The Northumberland Telescope donated by the Duke of Northumberland in 1833. The smaller Thorrowgood Telescope, on extended loan from the Royal Astronomical Society, a 36-inch Telescope, built in 1951 and the Three-Mirror Telescope.

Notable astronomers associated with our site, such as George Biddell Airy (CPS Fellow), James Challis, John Couch Adams, Robert Ball, Arthur Stanley Eddington (CPS Fellow) and Fred Hoyle to name but a few.

More information about the Institute of Astronomy can be found here: www.ast.cam.ac.uk

Inside the 1833  Northumberland Telescope at the Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge

Photo: Inside the 1833 Northumberland Telescope at the Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge

Dome of the Northumberland Telescope at the Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge

Photo: Dome of the Northumberland Telescope at the Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge

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