Telescopes

An observatoryThe astronomy side of Bayfordbury Observatory features 7 large permanently-mounted optical telescopes, 4 radio telescopes, and a range of smaller instruments.

The 6 newest optical telescopes use a range of CCD cameras and specialist filters to take detailed images of objects in space, from the nearby moon and planets, to nebulae and distance galaxies.

Five of these telescopes have recently been upgraded to run robotically, so that they can run automatically throughout the night without intervention, allowing students and staff to get the very most out of the available hours of clear sky.

The older but larger optical telescope allows a simpler platform for students to be introduced to astronomy, where they can move the telescopes themselves and get a chance to look through the eyepiece.

Our radio telescopes allow detailed observations to be made of the hidden hydrogen that makes up our own galaxy, as well as high-energy radio sources inside and outside our galaxy. An advantage of radio telescopes is that they can work during cloudy weather and during the day as well as at night.

Name Type Detector Filters
J.C.D. Marsh 20-inch f/13 Cassegrain Eyepiece -
R. Priddey Telescope 16-inch Meade LX200-ACF SBIG STX-16803 H-alpha, S-II, O-III
Paramount 16-inch Meade LX200-ACF SBIG STL-6303E BVRI (Johnson), H-alpha, 465nm
Video 14-inch Meade LX200R Lumenera SKYnyx 2-1 Red, Green, Blue, IR, UV
C.R. Kitchin 16-inch Meade LX200GPS SBIG STL-6303E BVR (Johnson), H-alpha
I.K.M Nicolson 16-inch Meade LX200 SBIG STL-1303 BVR (Johnson)
D. Axon Telescope 16-inch Meade LX200 SBIG STL-1303E BVR (Johnson)
Vince 6.5-inch f/13.5 refractor Eyepiece -
R.W. Forrest 4.5m parabolic dish 21cm/continuum -
Interferometer 3x 3m parabolic dishes - -

J.C.D. Marsh telescope

  • New Marsh TelescopeA 20-inch f/13 Cassegrain on a substantial English Cross-Axis mount.
  • It was the first telescope set up at the Observatory in 1970 and named after Lou Marsh, the first director of the Observatory.
  • Originally built as a 16-inch Cassegrain/Newtonian by Astronomical Equipment of Luton, and later modified by them in the mid-1980s to take the larger 20-inch mirror.
  • During the 1999 observatory renovation, a new dome was installed - the original dome was donated to Breckland Astronomical Society as part of the Great Ellingham Observatory.

Robert Priddey Telescope (RPT)

  • Robert Priddey TelescopeThis is the Observatory's newest telescope, installed in 2013, is a 16-inch Meade LX200-ACF identical to the BMT, and replaces an old manual Celestron C-14 from the late 1970s.
  • It is equipped with an SBIG STX-16803 full frame (37mm) camera, with narrowband H-alpha, O-III and S-II filters for imaging nebulae.
  • The co-mounted 4-inch TeleVue-102 guidescope can also be equipped with a solar H-alpha filter for making detailed observations of the Sun.

Paramount Telescope

  • Paramount telescopeThis is a 16-inch Meade LX200-ACF first installed in 2008, replacing the old Brinton Reflector.
  • In 2013 it was moved onto a new robotic Paramount ME mount.
  • It is equipped with an SBIG STL-6303E camera with an 8-position filter wheel, holding BVRI photometric, H-alpha and 465nm He filters.

Chris Kitchin Telescope (CKT)

  • Chris Kitchin Telescope (CKT)In 2005 a new 16-inch Meade LX200GPS was purchased for the Observatory by the East of England Science Learning Centre, and was installed in the dome formerly housing the Vince Telescope.
  • During late 2011 work was started on the CKT to convert it to robotic operation, and it became the first of 5 telescopes able to make automated observations of the night sky without anyone needing to be present.
  • It is equipped with an SBIG STL-6303E camera with a 5-position filter wheel, holding BVR photometric and H-alpha filters.

Iain Nicolson Telescope (INT)

  • Iain Nicolson Telescope (INT)In 1999 a telescope identical to the DAT was installed and later named after astronomy lecturer Dr Iain Nicolson.
  • Along with the others Meades it was upgraded in 2012-2013 to work robotically.
  • The INT is also used with an Andor EMCCD camera for ultra-high frame rate lucky imaging.

David Axon Telescope

  • David Axon TelescopeIn 1995 the Observatory installed its first 'go-to' telescope - a 16-inch Meade LX200 EMC that could automatically find thousands of objects in the night sky using a computerised handset, one of the first of its kind in the country.
  • It is equipped with an SBIG STL-1301E with BVR photometric filters.

R.W. Forrest Radio Telescope

  • R.W. Forrest Radio TelescopeThe Forrest Radio Telescope is a 4.5m, parabolic dish with a state-of-the-art 21cm (1.4GHz) Hydrogen line receiver.
  • The receiver allows spectrum or continuum readings to be made.
  • The telescope was built during the 1999 renovation to replace an older concrete radio dish.
  • Mounted on a custom 'Alt-Az' mount which is controlled from the Patrick Moore Building.

Radio interferometer

  • Radio interferometerIn December 2011 construction began on a 3-dish radio interferometer.
  • The dishes are 3m in diameter and have a maximum baseline of 115m.
  • Custom receivers and a new positioning system for the dishes are currently being set up.

Vince telescope

  • Vince telescopeA 6.5-inch f/13.5 apochomatic refracting telescope commissioned in 1934 by Mr Vince.
  • It uses a lens from an earlier telescope produced by the famous German opticians, Merz, in 1860, and is mounted in a brass cell manufactured by Hans Gordon of Berlin in around 1900.
  • The son of the original owner had loaned the instrument to the Chelmsford Astronomical Society in the late 1970s and while there was extensively restored by the chairman, Mr Weston.
  • The society later disbanded and the telescope sat in a garage for some time. It was eventually moved to Bayfordbury Observatory on permanent loan in 1988.
  • During the 1999 renovation a dedicated 4m dome was built to house the telescope on its original half-ton mount, but in 2005 the newer Chris Kitchin Telescope was installed in this dome and the Vince telescope mounted on the 20-inch Marsh Telescope where it is today.
  • The original mount was relocated to Ireland in 2011 to hold a Wray 6-inch f/15 refractor dating from the 1890s.

Video Telescope

  • The Video Telescope is a 14-inch Meade LX200R installed in 2007.
  • It specialises in fast frame rate, high resolution video imaging of solar system objects: the Sun, Moon and planets.
  • It has 7 filters to allow observations to be made from the near-infrared (great for Mars) through red, green and blue to ultraviolet (for viewing cloud bands on Venus).