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Space The Almighty Buck United Kingdom Science

Chance To Snap Up Your Own Observatory 62

Hugh Pickens writes "Like to own your own five-story observatory equipped with a 12" Meade Schmidt Cassegrain catadioptric telescope and a 20-inch Shafer-Maksutov telescope — the second-largest of its kind in the world? Well, there's one for sale at Marina Towers in Swansea, at an observatory that could be Wales' largest telescope. The Swansea Astronomical Society moved out two years ago, blaming increased rent and other costs. So the city council has asked interested parties to submit their proposals and financial offers by the end of March. Brian Spinks, the chair of the society, says the extra rent and running costs meant the society's members would have had to find around £40,000 over the next 10 years. 'The members can no longer be expected to finance such a public presence from their annual subscription. If we had to find £40,000 over the next 10 years it would kill the society.' The observatory was built in 1988 and includes a domed roof, an access tower that houses a spiral staircase, a stained-glass roof by artist David Pearl and panels of carved poetry by Nigel Jenkins. 'We'd like to see a mixed-use development that incorporates features of the existing observatory building,' says Coun Gareth Sullivan, Swansea council's cabinet member for regeneration. 'Bringing the observatory back into use would add even more vitality to the promenade.'"
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Chance To Snap Up Your Own Observatory

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  • by Mathinker ( 909784 ) on Sunday January 08, 2012 @09:58AM (#38628872) Journal

    My impression from perusing Wikipedia is that this Shafer-Maksutov telescope is the second largest mainly because it's just not that good a design for professional work []. I'm not an astronomer, though, by any means.

    Any astronomers out there who could chime in on this?

  • by petes_PoV ( 912422 ) on Sunday January 08, 2012 @10:32AM (#38629058)

    I think they were just looking for an excuse to disband and/or find a new hobby

    The society didn't disband. they just moved out - 2 years ago. Check their webiste.

    I'd guess that they simply found a better location. I wouldn't be surprised if Swansea promenade suffered a lot of bad light pollution and their website gives the impression that they've got a better location, elsewhere. Maybe even, for less money.

    Although it might sound nice for Swansea council to say "yes, we built an observatory on the promenade", it doesn't sound like it' was particularly successful if it's been 2 years since the previous users left and it's still empty. You have to wonder whether it was built with utility in mind (carvings? stained glass?) for astronomy, or simply as a vanity project for the council to spend public money on.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 08, 2012 @11:08AM (#38629232)

    Fucking rich urban Americans and South-East Englanders. In Wales the median income, if you actually include everyone rather than massaging the figures only to include those who have been lucky enough to find full-time employment, is tiny. 4000 GBP/year is, in fact, not much more than what the state considers (via means-tested allowances) what you need to live on excluding rent costs.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 08, 2012 @11:39AM (#38629442)

    Back when I was into this....

    That particular type of design was good for near field viewing as the focal length is 'ok'. The contrast is not as good. But that is ok for looking at local planets and such. The upside is they are usually sealed and not as prone to dust settling on the main mirrors. They are usually better for quick setup as they are lighter (the tube is not as long).

    For deep field you dont want too many mirrors involved and a bigger primary mirror. So these usually have excellent focal length and good contrast. But weigh a lot more.

    The weight may not seem like a big problem until you are lugging 100 pounds worth of tube up some hill in the middle of nowhere. You start to look at the other designs and see if you are ok with it.

    I own this particular style []
    I got too big of tube and the mirror weighs too much... I should have went with a shorter one like the style you pointed out. Looks sweet though. But takes about 4 hours to setup (cool off and collimation).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 08, 2012 @01:36PM (#38630398)

    Even an astronomer gets a part time job at a community college he is considered to be a sell out.

    Forget THFA, had you read even the /. intro you would have seen that this is an amateur astronomy club. They all have day jobs; this is their hobby, not an occupation.

    Keep your community-college trolls to yourself.

  • Observatory for sale (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 08, 2012 @06:36PM (#38632440)

    Just to correct some of the comments. The Tower and Observatory are empty - no scopes. The 20 inch is, in fact, the largest of its kind in the world and there is unlikely to be anything larger due to the difficulty of making and supporting this kind of mirror. The buildings were built with European funding. Change of use will bring many problems - disabled access, lift needed, fire regulations.....

10.0 times 0.1 is hardly ever 1.0.