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Celebration of one of the most powerful telescopes

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ASTRONOMERS will celebrate the 50th anniversary of one of the country’s most important sites in space exploration next month.

The large metallic dome in Herstmonceux is now nearly completed concealed by trees.

But there was a time when it housed the Isaac Newton telescope, which was the most powerful of its kind in Europe.

The telescope was originally housed in London at the Royal Greenwich Observatory. But the decision was made to move it to the grounds of Herstmonceux Castle because of air pollution in the capital.

It was inaugurated by Her Majesty The Queen on December 1 1967 and Friday will be its 60th anniversary.

At the time its was one of the most powerful telescopes in the world and experts flew in to Sussex to gaze up at heavens to far distant solar systems.

Herstmonceux was a global hub of space exploration but in the 1970s poor weather and an increase in air travel made it more and more difficult to use the telescope accurately.

In 1979 the telescope was shipped to La Palma in the Canary Islands where it remains to this day.

However, the dome in which it was housed, is a reminder of the role the village played in our understanding of science and space.

On December 1 there will be a special event to mark the anniversary with paintings and prints by Brighton artist Mark Charlton.

Some of those who worked on the telescope, and those who still do in La Palma, will be guests. The evening will end with a viewing through some of the remaining telescopes in Herstmonceux. Tickets cost £10. Call 01323 832731 or visit observatorysciencecentre.co.uk.


Source: The Argus