The University Observatory in St Andrews is an unique venue combining astronomical research, teaching, and outreach. All activities are centered around our telescopes, ranging from 6cm to 94cm in size and from 1 year to 100 years in age. The observatory is an outpost of the astronomy group at the School of Physics & Astronomy in St Andrews. It is located at +56 degrees latitude, -2.8 degrees longitude, and at an altitude of 30m.
The first dome visible from the street is on top of the Scott-Lang building, left in the image. The building is today occupied by the Centre for Research into Ecological and Environmental Modelling (CREEM). The dome contains a 50-cm reflecting telescope with a spectrograph (currently not in use).
Further down the path towards the sports grounds is the Gregory building with the large dome of the James Gregory Telescope.
The 54 year old 37″ James Gregory Telescope, the largest operational telescope in Scotland, is the undisputed highlight of the observatory. It is mostly run by postgraduate students and postdocs and is almost exclusively used for research projects. The JGT participates for example in the hunt for extrasolar planets as part of the Super-WASP collaboration and in the program HOYS, short for “Hunting Outbursting Young Stars”. It is also used for teaching on undergraduate and graduate level, for example, as part of the Observing School of the Scottish Universities Physics Alliance.
The Napier building with its three small domes is towards the north of the Gregory. This building is our undergraduate student observatory. The two main domes of the Napier house two Meade Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes with 25 (10″) and 40 cm (16″) aperture. Students can receive training on these telescopes and use them on their own for visual observations, astrophotography, and research. A number of smaller mobile telescopes are available to students. The third dome contains a 28 cm (11″) remotely controlled Celestron telescope, currently under construction. The groundfloor of the building contains rooms for meetings and project work. The student’s astronomical society Astro-Soc has an observing room and organises stargazing nights.