Sherwood Observatory & Astro Weather

I’m a proud member of the Sherwood Observatory.

Nestled in the heart of Nottingham, Sherwood Observatory continues to evolve as a beacon for astronomy enthusiasts and curious minds alike. Exciting news awaits stargazers and learners, as the observatory is set to elevate its offerings with the construction of a cutting-edge 59-seater planetarium. Positioned atop a Victorian reservoir, this ambitious addition promises to enhance outreach and educational opportunities, opening its doors towards the end of 2024.

History and Foundation

The history and foundation of Sherwood Observatory can be traced back to the late 1960s when David Collins initiated the formation of a local astronomical society in the Mansfield/Sutton-In-Ashfield area. This idea took shape in 1969 when Collins placed an advertisement in the local newspaper, attracting like-minded individuals such as William Henshaw and Gordon Jones. The society, initially named the “Mansfield and District Astronomical Society,” later became the “Mansfield and Sutton Astronomical Society.”

Despite initial challenges, the society, driven by its ambitious members, decided to construct an observatory. In collaboration with the Chesterfield society, they expanded their plans from an 18″ to a 24″ reflecting telescope with an electrically rotating dome. Sherwood Observatory’s location on Coxmoor Road, one of the highest points in Nottinghamshire, was secured with the help of key parties.

The observatory’s construction began in 1972, with foundations dug out over the next few years. Noteworthy is the commitment of members, demonstrated when 84-year-old Alfred Woolrich, a founding member, repaired a collapsed foundation trench just a day before pouring the foundations in 1975.

Over eight years, members collected building materials, including reclaimed bricks, for the observatory. The dome, designed with the assistance of Nottingham University Architects, presented a learning curve for everyone involved. The 22-foot diameter dome’s construction involved intricate work with steel channeling and aluminum, with the help of over 5,000 rivets.

Despite setbacks in hand-grinding the primary mirror, the society eventually acquired a 24-inch primary mirror and a satisfactory 6-inch secondary mirror. The telescope, designed by Gordon Jones and constructed with the help of Garnet Bradshaw and other members, finally saw its first light in 1986, officially opening the Sherwood Observatory.

The dedication and hard work of society members during the first 16 years culminated in the official opening by Astronomer Royal Professor Sir Francis Graham Smith. Throughout the years, various individuals and businesses played crucial roles in the observatory’s development.

Facilities and Equipment

The observatory’s commitment to providing state-of-the-art facilities receives a significant boost with the upcoming 59-seater planetarium. Equipped with cutting-edge projection technology and a spacious seating arrangement, this addition will offer visitors an immersive and educational experience, bringing the wonders of the universe to life in a whole new way.

Public Engagement and Education

The planetarium is set to become a centerpiece for public engagement and education at Sherwood Observatory. Its expansive seating capacity will accommodate larger audiences, allowing for more extensive outreach programs and educational sessions. From captivating visual displays of celestial phenomena to in-depth discussions led by knowledgeable astronomers, the planetarium will serve as a dynamic platform for astronomy education.

Stellar Events

The planetarium’s immersive capabilities will allow Sherwood Observatory to simulate and showcase stellar events with unparalleled realism. Visitors can witness meteor showers, lunar eclipses, and planetary alignments in a controlled and awe-inspiring environment. The addition of the planetarium amplifies the observatory’s capacity to host stellar events throughout the year.

Community Involvement

With the planetarium’s construction, Sherwood Observatory reinforces its commitment to community involvement. The larger space will enable more schools, groups, and residents to participate in educational programs and events. The observatory’s role as a community asset will be further enhanced, promoting scientific curiosity and exploration.

Volunteer and Membership Opportunities

As the observatory expands its facilities, volunteer opportunities will also increase. Sherwood Observatory welcomes the passion and dedication of volunteers interested in contributing to the planetarium’s success, whether through educational outreach, technical support, or event coordination.

Sherwood Observatory’s journey through the cosmos takes an exciting turn with the addition of a 59-seater planetarium atop a Victorian reservoir. Scheduled to open towards the end of 2024, this new facility will propel the observatory to new heights of educational excellence and public engagement. As Sherwood Observatory continues to inspire and educate, the planetarium stands as a testament to its commitment to fostering a deep appreciation for the marvels of the universe. Visit Sherwood Observatory and prepare to embark on an immersive celestial journey like never before.

Sherwood Observatory,
Coxmoor Road,
NG17 5LF,

Lat.: 53° 06′ 50″ N. Long.:01° 13′ 20.7″ W.
Altitude above sea Level 187.9 m

Find out more about our observatory here