Open to the public: Fri & Sat 20.00 - 22.00, Sun 11.00-13.00, September to April, Weather Permitting.
At: Lower Terrace, near Whitestone Pond, Hampstead, London NW3
Entrance is free and also open to non members. Visitors are also encouraged to make a small donation to help with the maintenance costs. If parties wish to make a booking it would be worth a call in advance because the observatory holds about a dozen people.
Our own observatory, the HAMPSTEAD OBSERVATORY, is situated near the corner of Heath Street and Hampstead Grove, near Whitestone Pond, Hampstead, at the highest point in London. It is on a high grass covered underground reservoir, enclosed by iron railings. It is well worth a visit.
The telescope is a very fine six-inch Cooke refracting telescope. It was originally built in 1899 and has been modified with a modern equatorial mounting featuring a remote controlled guiding system. The Cooke is a first class instrument, and suitable for an urban location where light pollution is an ever increasing problem. We can no longer show visitors anything but the brighter deep sky objects. Nevertheless, under average conditions it gives wonderful views of the Moon and planets and is superb for double stars.
During open sessions the Observatory is manned by a demonstrator and an assistant who are members of the Society and are on hand to show visitors interesting objects through the telescope, and to answer their questions.
In addition to its regular opening dates, the Observatory is of course opened during eclipses, apparitions of comets and at other times of special interest. During the recent appearance of Comet Hale-Bopp, for example, the observatory remained open all week and was host to over 1000 visitors. This was also the case for the last two apparitions of Halley's Comet.
The Society has an active Astronomical Section. We welcome new members, who may join the Astronomy Section and become involved with open nights at the Observatory. Apart from the demonstrators and assistants who take it in turns to open the Observatory, there is a small team of volunteers who are responsible for maintenance and repairs to the building and instruments. Some members have their own telescopes and observatories at home, and one member teaches a telescope-making class which is attended by quite a few members.
Last updated by J Atkinson 05-Apr-2007