Detail

Title ID 6027Collection ID879
TitleA Telescopic View
Date1970
CollectionRichard Armstrong
Genre/TypeAmateurIndependent AmateurFamily Home MovieNon-fictionLocal Topical
ThemeLeisure
KeywordsBuildings Children Interiors Leisure Time Activities Local History Villages
Location
LocalHerstmonceux
RegionalEast Sussex
NationalEngland United Kingdom
Credits
ProductionRichard Armstrong
CameraRichard Armstrong
NarratorRichard Armstrong (?)
Soundunknown
FormatColour Sound
Duration3 minutes 30 seconds
Copyright & AccessCopyright restrictions apply, contact Screen Archive South East for details

Summary

This colour film opens with a narrative from the film-maker on his passion for astronomy, explaining the process of creating a telescope mirror for a 6 inch reflecting telescope and demonstrating the first stage of grinding and shaping a telescope mirror on a table at home. Views of the Royal Greenwich Observatory (Equatorial Group) and the Isaac Newton Telescope Dome, Herstmonceux complete the film.

Description

This film opens with a narrative from the film-maker on his passion for astronomy, explaining the process of creating a telescope mirror for a 6 inch reflecting telescope and demonstrating the first stage of grinding and shaping a telescope mirror on a table at home. The film-maker then demonstrates the use of 12 inch and 6 inch home made telescopes, the latter used to project an image of the sun with a sun spot, on to paper. Close-up shots of the projection are shown to the camera.

The film closes with external views of the Royal Greenwich Observatory (Equatorial Group of Telescopes) and the Isaac Newton Telescope (INT) Dome, in Herstmonceux.

Stills

A still from 'A Telescopic View' (1970)

Contextual information

Text and details from the Observatory Science Centre website http://www.the-observatory.org/observatory-facts

This film was made when the Royal Greenwich Observatory (RGO) were using the Equatorial Group (the name given to the mounts the telescopes are set upon) and the silver coloured Isaac Newton Telescope (INT) for scientific astronomical research. The site was purchased by the Admiralty in the late 1930s but was not operational until the 1950s, due to the outbreak of the Second World War. The history of the RGO dates back to 1675 when King Charles II appointed John Flamsteed as the first Astronomer Royal, along with the building of the Observatory at Flamsteed House at the top of Greenwich Park in London. However by the 1930s light pollution in London grew so great that it was decided that a more rural site would be better for astronomers to conduct their work, so the site close to the Village of Herstmonceux, East Sussex was chosen. The transfer began in 1947 and by 1958 the Royal Greenwich Observatory was fully up and running at Herstmonceux. At its peak, over 200 people worked at The Observatory in Herstmonceux and lived in the local community.

During its days at Herstmonceux, the RGO used Herstmonceux Castle as the venue for a major conference attracting top astronomers from all over the world. The RGO was also responsible for more routine work, involving the careful mapping of star positions, monitoring of solar activity and provision of a national time service. It was from the observatory's atomic clocks at Herstmonceux that the familiar 'six-pips' were sent by land-line to the BBC for broadcast. Today, the BBC generates the 'pips' for themselves.

In 1990 The Royal Greenwich Observatory closed its doors at Herstmonceux and moved to Cambridge, leaving the historic telescopes behind. Five years later the Equatorial Group came back to life as The Observatory Science Centre, under the aegis of Science Projects. An extensive programme of repair and upgrading of the buildings and telescopes was completed in 2004, with the aid of a substantial grant from the National Heritage Lottery Fund. It is now a Grade II* listed monument. Alongside the historic telescopes there are over 100 interactive hands-on exhibits and exhibitions.