The University's new observatory is opened
On December 7th 2009, Professor Jeff Hoffman, former NASA astronaut, honorary graduate and Visiting Professor at the University of Leicester's Department of Physics and Astronomy, unveiled a new telescope at the University’s Observatory in Manor Road, Oadby.
He dedicated the piCETL Telescope in the presence of members of the University’s renowned Department of Physics and Astronomy and other guests.
The powerful new 20-inch piCETL Telescope was built by Planewave Instruments of Torrence, California, USA and replaces an older, smaller telescope. The piCETL Telescope combines state-of-the-art optics with a sophisticated carbon-fibre support structure, resulting in a strong, lightweight design with exceptionally good image quality, ideally suited to modern large-format CCD cameras.
The University of Leicester Observatory in Manor Road, Oadby was opened in 1980. It now houses the most advanced astronomical teaching facility available at a UK University and will be used by both undergraduates and research staff at the University of Leicester.
The public will also be able to view the wonders of the night sky through the telescope during regular open evenings and special events to be held at the Observatory.
The Director of the observatory, Professor Paul O'Brien, said "This is a wonderful example of how professional technology can be used to teach students and the public alike about the amazing universe all around us. It will used to study exciting phenomena such as planets orbiting other stars and exploding stars in the distant universe."
The new telescope was jointly funded by the Department of Physics and Astronomy and the Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (piCETL). The Director of piCETL, Professor Derek Raine said "this is a state-of-the-art facility for undergraduate use which will complement our robotic telescope in Mallorca that we will also be using for student projects."
The Head of the Physics and Astronomy Department, Professor Mark Lester, said "I am pleased that we have such a marvellous new facility for use by our undergraduates, which can also be used by a wider public. This is an excellent example of how the staff of the Department of Physics and Astronomy are prepared to work hard to provide first class resources for our undergraduates as they undertake their degrees."
Further images from the opening ceremony are available below.