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Restored 19th Century Orrery

NLO members, John Bardsley, Bill Hitchings & Pete Youd have spent the last year restoring this wonderful 19th century Orrery to full working order. It was donated by Howard Anderson, a member of the British Sundial Society.

On arrival it consisted of a painted wooden base, the Sun and Mercury and the clockwork mechanism but no other planets. Pete restored and french polished the base. John who is a master watchmaker/repairer, worked on the mechanism,repaired the gears and made new arms. Bill restored the Earth and the Cambridge Design Partnership 3D printed Saturn and the remaining planets (this orrery also includes asteroids, Ceres, Pallas, Vesta).

It is believed to have been made in Germany circa 1895, but we would be grateful for further information about this remarkable model of the solar system.

Transit of Mercury Event

The Norman Lockyer Observatory will be open to the public for viewing the Transit of Mercury
from 12.00pm on Monday 9th May 2016. This is quite a rare event happening just 13 times each century.
Using our telescopes we will be able to safely see the small planet transiting across the face of the Sun.
There is no charge for attending and visitors are welcome to drop in at any time during the day
(providing the Sun is shining!) to join us for observing this rare event.

You can find out more about this astronomical event at the British Astronomical Association website.

Family Day at the NLO Programme

Lecture Theatre:

11.30 – 12.00 The Big Bang! How it all began! The story of the early universe.
Kate Kay (NLO)

14.00 – 15.00 Accelerate! An electrifying science show for all!
Joe Spencer, Azaria Coupe, Alex Jantzen (Univ. of Southampton)

“Ever wondered how the world’s biggest machine, The Large Hadron Collider (LHC), works or what makes up everything in the universe? Accelerate is an interactive and exciting science show about answering those exact questions with the help of practical demonstrations, explosions, electrifying members of the audience using a Van der Graaf Generator, liquid nitrogen and levitating superconductors! Come join us for a 50 minute show where we will break down the recipe for building your very own particle accelerate and how to use it to discover the hidden secrets of how the most fundamental building blocks of the universe works. This explosive and electrifying show is delivered to you by postgraduate researchers from the University of Southampton.”


11.15 – 11.45 Discovering the Night Sky: Alan Green (NLO)
12.15 – 12.45 What’s in the Sky Tonight?
13.15 – 13.45 Stories Under the Stars: Mike O’Leary (The Hagstone Storyteller) + Mac
14.15 – 14.45 Springtime Stars: Martin Andrews
15.15 – 15.45 More Stories Under the Stars: Mike O’Leary (The Hagstone Storyteller)
16.00 – 16.30 Myths & Legends of the Stars: Mac (NLO)

Also, be sure to visit Colyton Grammar School “Hands-on Science” demonstrations in the meeting room.
Visit the Lockyer, Kensington and McClean Domes for historic telescope tours. The Lockyer Technology Centre for live radar meteor detecting, and if sunny, view solar activity safely through our new John Pope Solar Telescope.

Refreshments provided by Love Cake Catering.

Entry Fees: Children Free! Adults: £8

Norman Lockyer Observatory, Salcombe Hill, Sidmouth EX10 0NY

Events for March 2016

The following events are scheduled for March 2016

19th March – 11am to 5pm: Family Day at the NLO
Hands on Science demonstrations, Story telling in the Planetarium, Historic Telescope Tours, Safe Solar Observing,  Live Radar Meteor
Watching, talk about the Big Bang and featuring an explosive and electrifying lecture/demonstration from Southampton Accelerate:
“Ever wondered how the world’s biggest machine, The Large Hadron Collider (LHC), works or what makes up everything in the universe?
Accelerate is an interactive and exciting science show about answering those exact questions with the help of practical demonstrations”

The full programme has now been announced.


14th March – 7:30pm: A Cosmic Miscellany. A talk by guest speaker James Fradgley of Wessex Astronomical Society.

Open Evenings on 5th March and 31st March.

Also there are Sidmouth Climate Week events taking place in the town from Tuesday 8th to Friday 11th March

February Talk Abstract

COP21: a new world order?

A talk by Brian Golding

The 21st Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris was the culmination of an unprecedented year of UN activity, which produced the Sendai Framework for Disaster Reduction, the Sustainable Development Goals and finally the Paris Agreement. In my talk I will briefly trace the history of our understanding of how climate changes, review the progress of the UNFCCC and the broader issues that prevented agreement at earlier COPs, before moving on to describe the interlinked threads that culminated in Paris. I shall conclude by emphasising the risks and challenges that remain.

This event will take place on the 8th February at the Norman Lockyer Observatory.

NLO Astrophotographer of 2015

The NLO awards evening took place on the 11th December. The results of the annual astrophotographer of the year award were as follows:

Section Winners
Junior Imager: Victoria Bridges Galvez
New Imager: Steve Larsen
Interesting Clouds: Allan Brittan
Deep Space: Sharon Tubb
Lunar: Allan Jones
Solar: Steve Boyce
Planetary: David Strange
Widefield: David Strange

Astrophotographer of the Year 2015
1st. Sharon Tubb – Lagoon Nebula
2nd. Steve Boyce
3rd. David Strange

For the Observers Challenge 2015 awards were given to Sandy Moreton, Jan Hunt and Hugh Taylor for their exceptional efforts.

Astronomy Courses for 2016

The dates of our astronomy courses for 2016 are now available.

Intermediate Imaging Course: 13th February
Introduction to Astronomy Course: 14th May (Updated – was 16th April)
Moving on in Astronomy Course: 10th September
Intermediate Imaging Course: 19th November

You can book online or download the postal booking form from our Education page.