The Observatory ~
Situated in Lower Terrace, near Whitestone Pond, Hampstead, London NW3
Description: This is a small observatory which is one of the few, if not the only, observatories in London to provide public viewing of the night sky. The observatory is one of the most visible ways the HSS promotes science providing views of the Moon, planets and sky bric-a-brac. The roots of the Hampstead Scientific Society go back to Christmas 1898 when P.E.Vizard learned that a Hampstead resident, Colonel Henry Heberden J.P. had a 10.5-inch reflecting telescope that he would be happy to donate to a Society.
Hampstead Observatory, Lower Terrace, Whitestone Pond, NW3 (Hampstead tube or 210, 268 bus.) Open on clear evenings mid-Oct to mid-April, 8-10pm Fri and Sat, 11am-1pm Sun. Free.
He was prepared to make it available to members of the public. Thus it was that in July 1899 at a public meeting, the Hampstead Astronomical and General Scientific Society was formed.
The present telescope is a very fine six-inch Cooke refracting telescope.
Since 1899, the telescope has been modified with a modern equatorial mounting featuring a remote controlled guiding system. The Cooke is a first class instrument, and suitable for an urban location where light pollution is an ever increasing problem. We can no longer show visitors anything but the brighter deep sky objects. Nevertheless, under average conditions it gives wonderful views of the Moon and planets and is superb for double stars.
During open sessions the Observatory is manned by a demonstrator and an assistant who are members of the Society and are on hand to show visitors interesting objects through the telescope, and to answer their questions.
In addition to its regular opening dates, the Observatory is of course opened during eclipses, apparitions of comets and at other times of special interest. During the recent appearance of Comet Hale-Bopp, for example, the observatory remained open all week and was host to over 1000 visitors. This was also the case for the last two apparitions of Halley's Comet.