6th June

Moffat Community Observatory shines bright during Volunteers Week

During Volunteers Week, we highlight how Sir Robert McAlpine volunteers have supported the Moffat Astronomy Club and their commitment to the Moffat Community Observatory.

This volunteer-run facility has become a beacon for astronomy enthusiasts and a hub for promoting science education.

From its humble beginnings to its recent accomplishments, the Moffat Community Observatory stands as a testament to the power of community collaboration and volunteerism.

We caught up with Stephen Hunter, Maintenance Engineer (pictured middle) who shares some insights on this remarkable project and celebrate the individuals who have dedicated their time and effort to making it a reality.

Back in 2015, the Moffat Astronomy Club had a vision to create a community observatory after Moffat was recognised as a dark sky destination by the International Dark Sky Association. With the support of the local community, the club embarked on a journey of planning, fundraising and engagement. Despite facing unexpected challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic, their determination never wavered.

In October 2021, the Moffat Community Observatory officially opened its doors to the public. The inauguration ceremony was attended by Catherine Heymans, Professor of Astrophysics at Edinburgh University and the first-ever female Astronomer Royal for Scotland. The observatory quickly gained recognition with an increase in visitors from all over the UK, fulfilling the goal of attracting tourists to Moffat during the winter months.

The observatory also actively engages with the local school and scouting groups to promote science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects. Collaborating with the physics teacher of the school, the observatory aims to deepen its ties with the educational community and inspire young minds.

Recognising the importance of inclusivity, the Moffat Community Observatory has made strides in ensuring good accessibility. Thanks to the assistance of Sir Robert McAlpine, a wheelchair access ramp was constructed, allowing everyone to participate fully.

Looking ahead to the future, the observatory sets its sights on creating a terrace extension that will provide comfortable wheelchair access to a secondary telescope viewing area. Once again, the support of Sir Robert McAlpine is instrumental in facilitating this endeavour by offering volunteering days and equipment for the construction.


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