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Wednesday, 10 October, 2001, 11:31 GMT 12:31 UK
Giant telescopes to be restored
Herst telescope in Dome
The Herstmonceux Observatory is near Hailsham
The Royal Greenwich Observatory will receive nearly 800,000 of lottery funds to restore giant telescopes at its last British operational site.

The Herstmonceux Observatory, near Hailsham in East Sussex, was built to house the Royal Greenwich Observatory when it left London in 1957.

But astronomers moved to new headquarters in 1990 in Cambridge and the six telescope domes were abandoned.

Stephen Pizzey, director of Science Projects, the company who run the site and put in the lottery bid, said: "We took over the abandoned observatory six years ago and brought it back to life by opening it to the public as a science discovery centre.

Sir Patrick Moore
Sir Patrick Moore is 'delighted'
"Although we were able to halt the decay of the telescope buildings and open up two of the domes to the public, the mechanisms were in a poor condition and only one telescope could be used for public viewing evenings.

"The grant will allow us to incorporate unobtrusive modern control equipment and cameras on the telescopes to make it easier for public viewing and to allow real scientific use by university groups as well as amateur astronomy clubs."

A new interpretation centre in one of the domes will be named after Sir Patrick Moore, the TV astronomer.

He said: "I am delighted that the Herstmonceux Observatory has been saved for science."

Hourly pips

The grant of 782,000 will go towards renovating and repairing the buildings where Greenwich astronomers discovered one of the moons orbiting Jupiter, and studied black holes.

There will also be a display covering the history of the observatory and its discoveries.

Sarah Ward of the Heritage Lottery Fund's South East England committee said: "More people than ever before will be able to learn about the important role that Herstmonceux and the Royal Greenwich Observatory have played in the history of science."

The observatory also provided the six pips used in the Greenwich Mean Time hourly signal.

See also:

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16 Dec 99 | UK
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14 Jul 99 | Sci/Tech
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05 Feb 99 | Sci/Tech
Six pip salute
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