A chance to see The James Gregory Telescope, the biggest in the country, in action, on the first Wednesday of each month from 7 until 9 pm.
University of St Andrews, Buchanan Gardens KY16 9LZ.
Indoor Activities, Science and Technology
Ages 5 - 12, Schools and Groups, Teenagers
(based on family of 4)
The University Observatory in St Andrews is an unique venue which combines astronomical research, teaching, and outreach activities. All activities on the site are centred around the telescopes, which range from 6cm to 94cm in size and from 1 year to 100 years old. The observatory is a satellite of the astronomy group at the School of Physics & Astronomy in St Andrews.
The James Gregory Telescope is open to the public on the first Wednesday of the month, from 7 until 9pm, no matter what the weather. This provides the chance to see the biggest working telescope in the country in action. On these occasions an astronomer will normally be on hand to answer any questions and guide you through the observatory and it’s workings. There are open nights twice a year, organised by the astronomy group at the School of Physics & Astronomy, these typically take place in November and in March. On the open nights the James Gregory Telescope will be open, but the other telescopes at the observatory will also be in action. If the sky is clear, small telescopes will be installed for visual observations. The astronomers, as usual, will be happy to answer questions, share news, and bring you up to date with the latest research and developments. There are normally extra activities for children during these evenings, to keep them entertained and engaged.
The highlight of the observatory is the 54-year-old James Gregory Telescope, at 37″, the largest operational telescope in Scotland. It is almost exclusively used for research projects, and for teaching at undergraduate and graduate level.
The Napier building houses the undergraduate student observatory, home to two Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes with 25 and 40 cm apertures. Students can receive training on these telescopes and use them on their own for astrophotography, and research. A number of smaller mobile telescopes are available. The student’s astronomical society Astro-Soc has an observing room and organises stargazing nights.
The University Observatory is also happy to arrange tours, either during daytime or at night, and school classes, scout groups, amateur astronomers, tourist groups, or students are welcome to get in touch.
Stay safe. Coronavirus advice is being updated regularly. Some attractions are starting to reopen with social distancing measures in place. Enjoy browsing the site for trips and please check directly with the venue before visiting. Let’s Go with the Children is here to help and support families with ideas and information on what attractions are re-opening.