Explore the millions of stars and planets in our Dark Skies
Come and explore our Dark Side here in Moffat, with a population of 2,500 Moffat was the first town community beyond America to receive International Dark Sky Community status from the International Dark Sky Association in 2015 following an extensive engineering Master Plan to combat the growing problem of light pollution at night.
Moffat has had all the old sodium street lights removed and replaced with fully cut-off warm white LED lighting units, with thanks to the Scottish Government case study grant. James Paterson, a semi-retired lighting engineer along with Moffat Community Council conducted a full lighting audit of residential and non-residential exterior lighting, allowing Moffat to be award this prestigious status.
Moffat astronomy club was created in 2016 by individuals interested in the Dark Skies, and their first purchase was a 6-inch telescope which gave members an excellent start to observing the now dark sky, but their ambitions were to expand and build an observatory for all to enjoy, the clubs chair Evelyn Atkins (2016-2019) managed to secure funding of £34,000 to build such a great way to see the dark skies.
Finding a suitable location was needed, the combination of good visibility of the sky horizon and easy access proved to be impossible, the size of the structure and telescope also grew, but at last Evelyn found a receptive landowner just south of Moffat Academy. Structure plans were drawn up by astronomy club member James Paterson, planning approval and a building warrant were granted in 2019.
I first met Jim in the summer of 2019, the observatory was just a slab of concrete in the ground, this is the first VIDEO we shot, with Jim explaining where the cabin will be erected and how.
The structure was delivered in October but work couldn`t start straight away as they needed a building warrant, here Jim explains as what happened in our second VIDEO.
All the volunteers did eventually manage to get the cabin erected by the end of 2019, and within 6 months they made amazing progress, they did however come across a few hiccups but there is light at the end of the tunnel, watch the VIDEO here.
Unfortunately the structure then was covered for months due to Covid, and after the restrictions where eventually lifted the volunteers have managed to finish the observatory.
Installing a Meade f/8 advanced comma free (ACF) 16” telescope on a WiFi compatible equatorial mount, made by iOptron below a 3-meter diameter observing dome, with a focal length of 3251mm the optical tube provides a light gathering capability which is ideal to view deep sky objects like nebulae and super-novas. They have also purchased cameras to provide data and take Astro photography images.
The grand formal opening took place on the 16th October 2021 with the recently appointed 11th Astronomer Royal for Scotland, Prof. Catherine Haymans.
The Observatory is now available to visit and most definitely worth an evening out star gazing (if the skies are clear, but you`ll still enjoy the tour), go and take a look at the finished product, it truly is amazing THE FINISHED PRODUCT, you can book your visit to the Observatory HERE and it`s free, please feel free to donate as the observatory is maintained purely by volunteers.
The best time to see the Dark Skies is between the beginning October and the end of March
Jim has been extremely helpful over the past few years and his opening speech was superb, you can read it here and I`m totally grateful for all his help and the information he has given me to write this BLOG piece.
Don`t forget to BOOK your stay here at Dell-Mar B&B and enjoy the stars from our Chapel Hill room.
Susan, 51, Love discovering new and exciting adventures in Moffat.