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Jeremiah Horrocks Institute
for Mathematics, Physics and Astronomy,
University of Central Lancashire,
United Kingdom
Tel 01772 893312
Fax 01772 892996

Alston Observatory

Royal Astronomical Society - Advancing Astronomy & GeophysicsThe Alston Observatory is a purpose-built teaching facility. Also on the site are telescopes with a long history. We have recently added a new Discovery Dome planetarium system, exhibits on Telescopes as Time Machines funded by the Royal Astronomical Society, and an outside experiment Measuring the Cosmos.

Discovery Dome is an exciting system that allows a laptop computer and digital projector to display movies onto a planetarium dome, as well as enhanced planetarium shows. This will enable both informative material to be presented for evening events, and educational material for curriculum enhancement.

Information on the wide range of activities offered by the Alston observatory team can be found on these pages. If you would like to contact us for further information or to make a booking, please e-mail us at alstonobservatory@uclan.ac.uk

View of the main planetarium building and MAT telescope
Alston main building


Alston Observatory,
Alston Lane,

Wilfred Hall Telescope Museum

In Summer 2013 Dr Joanne Bibby was awarded an IoP public engagement grant to turn the disused Wilfred Hall Telescope Dome into a Exhibition Space.

The dome is currently undergoing renovation and redecoration and will be open for visits in 2014. Please note all visits must be pre-booked as Alston Observatory is not an open site.

Once complete, the dome will incorporate all the different research areas currently active at the Jeremiah Horrocks Institute and will show how each, seemingly different, research topic is linked to the others.

There will also be information on the history of Jeremiah Horrocks himself and the history of the Wilfred Hall Telescope, which still enjoys pride of place in the centre of the dome.


At Alston Observatory we are privileged to have a fixed planetarium dome and HD projector which can seat up to 25 adults or 30 children (under 14?s only).

This is a unique way for both school children and the general public to discover the universe from the comfort and warmth of the Alston planetarium. It also makes a great alternative to observing when the British weather is not at its best.

We are currently showing two movies specifically designed for planetariums.

Two Small Pieces of Glass (more information)

We Are Aliens (more information)

We also run the Stellararium software to tell the stories behind the constellations, tour the Solar System, and explain how to navigate the night sky.

If you are interested in visiting our planetarium then please email us at alstonobservatory@uclan.ac.uk


Measuring the Cosmos applies the fundamental parallax technique to the measurement of distances to an artificial "constellation", demonstrating how difficult it is to determine distance in the Universe.

Telescopes as Time Machines looks at the 400 year history of the telescope, and relates observations to our understanding of the Universe, providing discussion points for understanding the idea that distance equates to time into the past when we are considering the vast distances beyond out solar system.

top of page Header Image : Simulated Nanoparticle (Marco Pinna, Joe Smerdon), Solar disk with SDO (NASA UClan SDO archive), V838 Monocerotis (NASA/STScl), NGC7424 (Gemini Observatory), M74 (NASA Hubble Space Telescope) NASA,and ESA ; and solar plume courtesy of SOHO /EIT consortium

Author: Paul Browne, Last Updated: 13 December 2013, 11:30

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