Press Release Archive

ReD Team - Thumbnail Image

25 November 2014
'ReD letter day' for the UK ATC

November 25th  marked the shipping of the UK ATC developed Retinal Densiometer prototype (ReD) to Cardiff University’s School of Optometry and Vision Sciences. The device is designed to help diagnose Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD), a leading cause of sight loss in adults living in the developed world. Once at Cardiff the prototype will undergo more realistic engineering tests involving human volunteers before further versions are deployed for clinical trials.

RAS Logo

22 January 2014
2014 RAS Group Achievement Award to the Herschel-SPIRE Consortium

This award recognizes outstanding achievement by large groups in collaboration with other institutes, including STFC's Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) in Oxfordshire and the UKATC at the Royal Observatory Edinburgh.


11 November 2013
Ministers view Extremely Large Telescope work

Alistair Carmichael MP, the Secretary of State for Scotland, visited the UK Astronomy Technology Centre (UK ATC) with David Willetts MP, Minister for Universities and Science, on 11th November 2013.


30 October 2013
Astronomers talk climate change and biodiversity in pioneering project

Astronomers are putting their telescopes aside this week (30-31 October) to look at climate change and biodiversity as they come together with tropical forest researchers to look at how tropical forest changes affect global warming and species distribution.



01 July 2013
Intergalactic magnifying glasses could help astronomers map galaxy centres.

An international team of astronomers may have found a new way to map quasars, the energetic and luminous central regions often found in distant galaxies. Team leader Prof. Andy Lawrence of the University of Edinburgh presents the new results on Monday 1 July at the RAS National Astronomy Meeting in St Andrews, Scotland.



12 March 2013
Huge Map of the Distant Universe Reaches Halfway Point - VLT survey charts positions of 55 000 galaxies

The largest project ever undertaken to map out the Universe in three-dimensions using ESO telescopes has reached the halfway stage. An international team of astronomers, including members of the University of Edinburgh, has used the VIMOS instrument on the ESO Very Large Telescope to measure the distances to 55 000 galaxies as part of the VIPERS survey. This has already allowed them to create a remarkable three-dimensional view of how galaxies were distributed in space in the younger Universe. This reveals the complex web of the large-scale structure of the Universe in great detail.


08 Jan 2013
Dark Sky Discovery sites in the UK hit the big 50 as Stargazing LIVE gets underway

The Dark Sky Discovery (DSD) network is today unveiling six new Dark Sky Discovery Sites on the day that BBC Two’s Stargazing LIVE gets underway. Dark Sky Discovery Sites are areas identified by the public as safe, accessible viewing spots where it is dark enough to view stars in the night sky.


12 Dec 2012
Astronomers Shed New Light On Cosmic Dawn

University of Edinburgh astronomers have used the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope to reveal a population of primitive galaxies that formed more than 13 billion years ago, when the Universe was less than 4% of its present age. One of these is probably the most distant galaxy found to date (at redshift 12). These new observations shed new light on the earliest years of cosmic history.


07 November 2012
"Cosmic GDP" crashes 97% as star formation slumps

While parts of the world experience economic hardship, a team of astronomers co-led by Professsor Philip Best at the Institute for Astronomy in Edinburgh has found an even bigger slump happening on a cosmic scale.


19 October 2012
Dark Sky Discovery all set for a winter of stargazing

A restaurant car park, a hotel and a caravan park may not seem the most likely places for a spot of stargazing but these are just some of the areas being named as Dark Sky Discovery Sites as a brand new season of stargazing gets underway.


09 May 2012
First instrument for the JWST is completed and handed over to NASA

After more than ten years of work by more than 200 engineers, the Mid InfraRed Instrument (MIRI), a camera so sensitive it could see a candle on one of Jupiter’s moons, has been declared ready for delivery by the European Space Agency and NASA.


03 May 2012
Black hole caught red-handed in a stellar homicide

British Astronomers have helped to gather the most direct evidence yet of a supermassive black hole shredding a star that wandered too close.


27 March 2012
‘Can-do’ Kids meet at Royal Observatory

Seven teams of high school students from across Scotland will compete to launch a space experiment that fits into a soft drinks can (a ‘CanSat’) at the STFC Royal Observatory Edinburgh this week. The competition is part of a Europe-wide programme organised by the European Space Agency. The cans have been provided by Irn Bru, and the Scottish CanSats are now ready to launch.


27 March 2012
New SCUBA-2 camera reveals wild youth of the universe

A team of astronomers from the UK, Canada and the Netherlands have commenced a revolutionary new study of cosmic star-formation history, looking back in time to when the universe was still in its lively and somewhat unruly youth! The consortium, co-led by University of Edinburgh astrophysicist Professor James Dunlop, is using a brand new camera called SCUBA-2, the most powerful camera ever developed for observing light at "sub-mm" wavelengths (i.e. light of wavelength 1000 times longer than we can see with our eyes).


21 March 2012
VISTA produces spectacular panoramic view of the distant Universe

A team led by University of Edinburgh astrophysicist Professor James Dunlop has just released the most sensitive ever infrared image of a representative region of the distant Universe. The new image comes from the first year of data taken as part of the five-year UltraVISTA survey. It was made by combining more than six thousand separate exposures equivalant to an exposure time of 55 hours. The image reveals more than 200,000 galaxies, including the most massive galaxies yet seen in the early Universe, objects which formed less than one billion years after the Big Bang.


09 January 2012
Astronomers reach new frontiers of dark matter

For the first time, astronomers have mapped dark matter on the largest scale ever observed. The results, presented by Dr Catherine Heymans of the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and Associate Professor Ludovic Van Waerbeke of the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, are being presented today (09/01/12) to the American Astronomical Society meeting in Austin, Texas. Their findings reveal a Universe comprised of an intricate cosmic web of dark matter and galaxies spanning more than one billion light years.


06 December 2011
Revolutionary new camera reveals the dark side of the Universe

A new camera that will revolutionise the field of submillimetre astronomy has been unveiled on the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (JCMT) in Hawaii. SCUBA-2 is far more sensitive and powerful than previous instruments and can map areas of the sky hundreds of times faster.


03 October 2011
STFC funding paves the way for UK leadership in E-ELT instrumentation

£3.5 million in funding from STFC over the next two years has put UK astronomers in a strong position to take a leading role in the development of key instruments on the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT). The E-ELT is planned to be the largest optical and infrared telescope in the world and will be tens of times more sensitive than any current ground-based optical telescope. The project is currently awaiting final approval for construction to begin.

29th June 2011
UK astronomers find brightest quasar in the early universe

An international team of astronomers announced today the discovery of the most distant known supermassive black hole, seen as a luminous quasar created by gas falling into the black hole.

14th February 2011
Scottish astronomers and engineers join search for new earth-like planets

Astronomers from the Universities of St Andrews and Edinburgh are joining their counterparts from Queen's University Belfast and the Universities of Geneva, Harvard and INAF-TNG in the hunt for extra-solar planets similar to the Earth. Together they will be building and using a new instrument called HARPS-N for the Italian 3.5-metre Telescopio Nazionale Galileo in the Canary Islands. The instrument will be able to analyze the light of candidates identified from NASA’s Kepler space probe.

5th January 2011
VISTA goes deep into the Blue Lagoon

A new image of a star-forming region known as the Lagoon Nebula that lies about 4-5000 light years away has been captured by the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO’s) UK-designed and built VISTA telescope.


13th October 2010
Conference highlights the benefits of astronomy research on wider society

A technology developed to establish the age of galaxies which is now being used to compare medical scans and a telescope project that has seen UK companies win £9 million in contracts are being highlighted at a conference this week as examples of how astronomy can benefit society.

13th August 2010
ROE staff on-loan for 'reading' at Edinburgh's Fringe Festival

A ‘Human Book’ about ‘Dark Skies and Big Telescopes’ was available for loan at Edinburgh’s Fringe Festival this week (Wednesday 11th August), in the form of Dan Hillier, the manager of the Royal Observatory of Edinburgh Visitor Centre. Dan from the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s UK Astronomy Technology Centre (UKATC) was part of the ‘Future Editions’ library organised which offered 30 specialists on-loan across the city for festival-goers to chat with for ten minute spells.

11th August 2010
Spectacular new ‘Tarantula’ image captured by VISTA

Astronomers have captured a spectacular new image in a region of our neighbouring galaxy known to have an abnormally high rate of star formation that reveals yet more details about its history and development. The picture, taken with the UK-designed and built VISTA telescope, is of the Tarantula Nebula, a region in the Large Magellanic Cloud which contains many stars that can be difficult to detect because they are enshrouded in the gas and dust clouds from which they formed. Astronomers were able to take the image by using ESO’s VISTA (Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy ) telescope because it can pick up near infra-red light, which we cannot see ourselves, that has a longer wavelength of visible light, enabling it to penetrate much of the dust that would normally obscure our view.


15th July 2010
NASA award for telescope innovation to Edinburgh Scientist

The late Dr Timothy Hawarden, who was based for many years at the ’STFC's UK Astronomy Technology Centre (UK ATC), has been awarded a NASA Exceptional Technology Achievement Medal for his pioneering work on innovative cooling techniques that make possible future infrared space telescopes, including the one that will follow the Hubble Space Telescope. The awards were presented at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, home of the Hubble, on 16 June 2010. Nobel laureate, Dr, John Mather, an American astronomer who was an early convert to Tim’s concept, accepted it on Tim’s behalf.

The medals accompanying the award were presented to Tim’s widow, Frances today (15 July 2010) at a brief ceremony held at the UK ATC (formerly the Royal Observatory Edinburgh or ROE) during a meeting of the Science Working Group for the James Webb Space Telescope. At the ceremony Robert Smith, an historian charged with writing a comprehensive history of this huge NASA/ESA mission, gave an introduction to the significance of Tim’s work to an audience of NASA and ESA scientists together with some of Tim’s colleagues at the UK ATC.


25 June 2010
All eyes on giant telescope project

An exhibition including two innovative videos is showcasing inspirational plans to build the largest optical telescope in the world – the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT).

The giant telescope is in an advanced stage of design by astronomers and industry across Europe, led by the European Southern Observatory (ESO). The E-ELT, with a main mirror 42 metres in diameter, is expected to revolutionise our understanding of the Universe and its origins.


17 June 2010
UK scientists focus on revealing hidden mysteries of the Universe

Secrets of the Universe are to be revealed as a new telescope equipped with the world?s most powerful digital camera begins its observations of the night sky. The Pan-STARRS sky survey telescope - known as PS1 - will enable scientists to better understand the mysteries of dark matter and dark energy, the material that is thought to account for much of the mass of the universe but has never been proven to exist.

Astronomers from the Universities of Durham, Edinburgh and Queen?s University Belfast together with researchers from around the world are using the telescope to scan the skies from dusk to dawn each night.

LOFAR logo

16 June 2010
Largest radio telescope gets royal seal of approval

The world's largest radio telescope has been officially launched at a special ceremony in the Netherlands attended by astronomers from the UK and many other countries. Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands formally opened LOFAR, which stands for Low Frequency Array, on Saturday 12 June. Representatives from consortia in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the United Kingdom then officially signed the memorandum that kicks off their scientific collaboration.


18 March 2010
Hubble's successor one step closer to completion

A working replica of MIRI - the pioneering camera and spectrometer for the James Webb Space Telescope - has just been shipped (16th March) from the Science and Technology Facilities Council's Rutherford Appleton Laboratory to NASA's Goddard Space Flight Centre, bringing the Webb telescope one small step closer to embarking on its journey into space where it will produce the sharpest images yet of the farthest depths of the cosmos.

Orion Extracts

10 February 2010
Orion in a new light - ESO's VISTA telescope exposes high-speed antics of young stars

The Orion Nebula reveals many of its hidden secrets in a dramatic image taken by the new UK-designed VISTA telescope. The survey telescope's huge field of view can show the full splendour of the whole nebula and VISTA's infrared vision also allows it to peer deeply into dusty regions that are normally hidden and expose the curious behaviour of the very active young stars buried there.


16 December 2009
Statement by the Director UK ATC on the STFC Press Release of Dec 16th 2009:

Impact through inspiration and innovation

Full text of the STFC press release.

Full text of the UK ATC press statement.

11 December 2009
First stunning images captured by VISTA Telescope

A new UK-designed telescope, that can map the sky much faster and deeper than any other infrared telescope, has made its first release of stunning images. VISTA (the Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy) is the world’s largest telescope dedicated to mapping the sky in infrared light and will reveal a completely new view of the southern sky. The spectacular images of the Flame Nebula, the centre of our Milky Way Galaxy and the Fornax Galaxy Cluster show that VISTA, based at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile, is working extremely well.


High z Galaxy

08 December 2009
Reinvigorated Hubble reveals most distant galaxies yet

Using the recently updated Hubble Space Telescope (HST) two teams of UK astronomers have identified galaxies which are likely to be the most distant yet seen. The UK teams, one led by Andrew Bunker and Stephen Wilkins at the University of Oxford and the other by Ross McLure and Jim Dunlop at the University of Edinburgh, analysed infrared images from the new Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) instrument on HST, installed during the most recent Space Shuttle servicing mission in May 2009. Infrared light is light invisible to the human eye, with wavelengths about twice as long as visible light - beyond the red.


04 December 2009
Dome Repairs at the Royal Observatory

The Science and Technology Facilities Council is about to start work on a major programme of repairs to the two historic copper domes that top the 1894 Observatory building at the Royal Observatory Edinburgh.

The Grade A listed Observatory building is 115 years old and although repairs have been made when necessary over the years, a major programme of work is required to ensure that the domes continue to be a landmark on the Edinburgh skyline and stand up to the rigours of the Scottish weather for the next 100 years.


01 December 2009
Herschel takes a peek at the ingredients of the galaxies

The European Space Agency has today (25th Nov) released spectacular new observations from the Herschel Space Observatory, including the UK-led SPIRE instrument. Spectrometers on board all three Hershel instruments have been used to analyse the light from objects inside our galaxy and from other galaxies, producing some of the best measurements yet of atoms and molecules involved in the birth and death of stars.


Boy with telescope

18 November 2009
STFC welcomes new forest of stars

The new Dark Sky Park in Galloway Forest marks a new high in the growing interest in the UK's dark skies. It follows three years of STFC-led UK Dark Sky events which have been have been rekindling curiosity in the night sky and switching people on to the wonders of the universe.


23 October 2009
Asteroid honour as Dark Sky Scotland programme gears up for Moonwatch week

The international astronomy community has this month honoured the Dark Sky Scotland public astronomy project by naming an asteroid after it.


02 October 2009
Herschel’s cameras combine to show the galaxy in a new light

The Herschel Space Observatory has produced spectacular new images of interstellar material in our galaxy, using the UK-led SPIRE camera in tandem with Herschel’s other camera, PACS.


10 July 2009
Herschel’s UK-led SPIRE instrument returns first images

Scientists at Edinburgh’s UK Astronomy and Technology Centre (UK ATC) are celebrating the success of the first astronomical images captured by the UK-led SPIRE instrument on board the Herschel Space Observatory.


28 May 2009
Celebrating the 20th Century's most important experiment

In 1919, the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) launched an expedition to the West African island of Príncipe, to observe a total solar eclipse and prove or disprove Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity. Now, in a new RAS-funded expedition for the International Year of Astronomy (IYA 2009), scientists are back.


Cluster image

2 April 2009
Heavyweight Galaxies in the Early Universe Puzzle Astronomers

An international team of astronomers has discovered large galaxies existing when the Universe was young - some two thirds of the way back to the Big Bang - casting doubt on current theories of how the biggest galaxies form.

Stargazing at Newbattle Abbey College

26 March 2009
World's first Dark Sky Discovery Sites announced in Scotland

To celebrate the International Year of Astronomy 2009, the world’s first Dark Sky Discovery Sites were unveiled yesterday at Newbattle Abbey College in Dalkeith.

Pupils with telescope

25 February 2009
Scottish launch of International Year of Astronomy 2009

Scientists, amateur astronomers, teachers and outdoor educators are gathering at the Royal Observatory Edinburgh this morning, 25th February, to launch the International Year of Astronomy 2009 in Scotland.


5 February 2009
Scientists get the measure of life on other planets

Alien life forms are out there - and there could be thousands of them, according to a new scientific analysis. Researchers at the University of Edinburgh refined existing research to work out that there could be at least 361 life forms in our Galaxy - and possibly as many as 38,000.


25 October 2008
Scots rediscover the stars

A project is underway to open Scots’ eyes to the night skies above them by searching for local Dark Sky Discovery sites as part of the build up to International Year of Astronomy 2009.

Pupils looking through telescope

19 October 2008
Space and astronomy a hit with pupils as 1000 schools get free telescopes

From next year pupils in 1 in 4 secondary schools will get close up views of the Moon, planets and the stars, in one of the largest astronomy outreach projects ever seen in the UK. The Society for Popular Astronomy (SPA), Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) and Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) have teamed up to give free telescopes to 1000 secondary schools from early in 2009.


17 October 2008
Astronomers peer through cosmic dust to see origins of the Universe

Astronomers using the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (JCMT) in Hawaii are set to make major new discoveries about the origins of the planets, stars and galaxies with the start of a new survey to map the Universe.

Galaxies in collision

17 October 2008
Colliding galaxies reveal colossal black holes were common in early Universe

New observations made with the Submillimeter Array of telescopes in Hawaii suggest that black holes - thought to exist in many, if not all, galaxies - were common even in the early Universe, when galaxies were just beginning to form. Astronomers have found two very different galaxies in the distant Universe, both with colossal black holes at their heart, involved in a spectacular collision.

Planets orbiting Vega

10 October 2008
Scientists meet in Edinburgh to discuss progress in the search for alien life.

The origins of life in our galaxy and the ongoing search for alien life outside our solar system will be at the forefront of discussions this week (8th – 10th Oct) when scientists gather at Edinburgh’s Royal Observatory for this year’s Annual Workshop.

Image of brain

11 August 2008
Astronomers have better brain scans within their sights

Patients having hospital brain scans could receive faster and better diagnosis and avoid the need for repeat appointments, thanks to a new technique developed by astronomers.

Clearing the dust from Black Hole images

24 July 2008
Infrared Sunglasses See Black Hole Disks

For the first time, astronomers have found a way to get a clean view of the disks which surround supermassive black holes in the centre of galaxies. By using a polarizing filter on the UK Infrared Telescope (UKIRT) on Mauna Kea, Hawaii, they have been able to see through the clouds of dust which surround these black holes.

Coated Mirror

17 April 2008
Survey telescope nears completion

A 4.1 metre diameter primary mirror, a vital part of the world's newest and fastest survey telescope, VISTA [the Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy] has been delivered to its new mountain top home at Cerro Paranal Observatory, Chile. The mirror will now be installed on the telescope and coupled with a small test camera for initial testing prior to installing the main camera in June. Full scientific operations are due to start early next year. VISTA, a survey telescope being constructed for ESO (the Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere), will form part of ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT) facility. It is an in-kind contribution to ESO as part of the UK's accession agreement, with the subscription paid by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC).

Simulation of HLTau

2 April 2008
Astronomers find Embryonic Planet

Using radio observatories in the UK and US and computer simulations, a team of astronomers have identified the youngest forming planet yet seen. Team leader Dr Jane Greaves of the University of St Andrews will discuss the 'protoplanet' in her talk at the RAS National Astronomy Meeting in Belfast on Wednesday 2 April.

Pelican Nebula

1 April 2008
Revealing the multi-wavelength sky with AstroGrid

The multi-wavelength sky is set to clear as the world's most powerful astronomical virtual observatory opens. The AstroGrid service provides the UK astronomy community unparalleled access to the wide range of multi-wavelength observations of our sky.

Night sky

13 March 2008
Seeing the stars inspires highland communities to switch off the lights

Two Highland communities were inspired by star-gazing sessions last weekend to take part in the global Earth Hour event. This will see households and businesses switch off their lights at 8pm for one hour on Saturday 29 March. Community leaders in Knoydart and Laggan are encouraging local people to take part.


21 February 2008
Edinburgh astronomers deliver "Origins" Camera

Today (21 February 2008) the Science and Technology Facility Council's UK Astronomy Technology Centre (UK ATC) at the Royal Observatory Edinburgh shipped its biggest and most complex ever instrument. The giant camera known as SCUBA-2 will be transported to the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (JCMT) on top of a 14,000 foot mountain in Hawaii where it is expected to make major discoveries related to the origins of galaxies, stars and planets.

Survey map

16 January 2008
Royal Astronomical Society Group Achievement Award presented to Edinburgh Led Team

The 2dF Galaxy Redshift Survey Team has been named as the first recipient of a new Group Achievement Award presented by the Royal Astronomical Society. The award recognizes outstanding achievement by large consortia in any branch of astronomy or geophysics where it is not appropriate to present, jointly, one of the other awards of the Society.

A Globular Cluster

10 January 2008
Heat from the Heavens - Opening up the Infrared Sky

The JAC (Joint Astronomy Centre) has announced that the infrared sky is expanding significantly for the world astronomical community with the first world release of data (DR1) from the UKIRT Infrared Deep Sky Survey (UKIDSS).

James Webb Space Telescope

06 December 2007
Testing time for instrument on Hubble's successor

A significant milestone for the Hubble Space Telescope successor, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), is on course to be reached before Christmas with the testing of the verification model of the Mid-InfraRed Instrument (MIRI) at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire.

Sombrero Galaxy

24 October 2007
Supercool Astronomy in Edinburgh

Events at the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh are a great way to help you take advantage of the long dark winter nights we have here in Scotland. Not only do we have these extra hours of darkness, but we are also blessed with many rural areas which do not suffer from light pollution, meaning we have even more opportunities for stargazing.

Boy with Telescope

19 September 2007
Astronomers Over the Moon at Start of Star-Gazing Season

The nights are drawing in... so astronomers are heading out into Scottish forests and woodlands to take advantage of the spectacular dark skies the country has to offer and inviting people to take part in the Dark Sky Scotland autumn programme of nationwide astronomy events.

Artist's Impression of the James Webb Space Telescope

21 September 2007
The Future is HUGE
Royal Observatory, Edinburgh Open Days

As part of the 2007 Edinburgh Doors Open Day the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh will be opening its doors to the public on 29th and 30th September (10am - 5pm). Come and catch talks, demonstrations and exhibits and find out about the mammoth mega-projects we are working on. As astronomers seek to probe ever further into the mysteries of the Universe the telescopes they need get bigger and bigger.

Dark sky map of the UK

7 March 2007
Spot the Stars is Scotland's Forests

Forestry Commission Scotland will be hosting more dDark Sky Scotland events: 16, 17 March - Kilmartin House Museum, near Lochgilphead; 23, 24 March - Carbisdale Castle Youth Hostel, near Ardgay.


6 February 2007
Daytime stargazing in Aberdeenshire forest

Forestry Commission Scotland will be hosting the inaugural events of an exciting new initiative called Dark Sky Scotland at Kirkton of Durris on Friday 9 and Saturday 10 February.


23 January 2007
Astrofun and stargazing herald the start of Dark Sky Scotland astronomy events

Dark Sky Scotland, the first pan-Scotland programme of public and educational astronomy events, will begin in Aberdeenshire on Friday 9 and Saturday 10 February at Kirkton of Durris, near Banchory.

Nicol Stephen, MSP at the ROE

17 January 2007
Dark Sky Scotland launched by Deputy First Minister

Today (17 January 2007) the Deputy First Minister, Nicol Stephen, MSP, launched Dark Sky Scotland, Scotland's first nationwide programme of public and educational astronomy events. The dark skies of rural Scotland, free from urban light pollution, are among the best in Europe offering stunning views of the stars and planets.

Making masks

14 February 2006
MBE for Girl Guide Role Model

Dr Gillian Wright, astronomer at the Royal Observatory Edinburgh, and supporter of the Go For It! with sciZmic Space Events was awarded an MBE for Services to Science in the New Year's Honours. Gillian has taken time out from working on the next space telescope to take part in the events which are held at the ROE Visitor Centre in partnership with Girlguiding UK.

Vela super-nova remnant

1 November 2005
Cosmic Explorers: Mapping the Universe
Royal Observatory, Edinburgh Annual Public Lecture

Join us to explore the Universe using the very latest astronomical maps maps!

Speaker: Professor Andrew Lawrence
Venue: The Biosphere, Our Dynamic Earth, Holyrood Road, Edinburgh
Date and time: Wednesday 9 November 2005, 6.30 p.m.
Admission: Free

Astrogrid logo

21 September 2005
'Through the looking glass' - the Universe at your computer

Astronomers throughout the UK now have a valuable new research tool at their disposal which may lead to new discoveries and improved understanding of the physics of the Universe. Launched this week, AstroGrid provides a unique way of accessing, processing and storing astronomical data obtained from a diverse range of data archives held anywhere on Earth. AstroGrid will open the way for virtual observing on individual computers, enabling astronomers to compare and manipulate a wide range of astronomical data taken from both ground and space-based telescopes.

1894 Building

14 September 2005
A historic setting for the future of astronomy
Royal Observatory, Edinburgh Open Days

As part of the 2005 Edinburgh Doors Open Day the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh will be opening its doors to the public on 24th and 25th September (10am - 5pm). Come and catch talks, demonstrations and exhibits and discover how our historic site on Blackford Hill is evolving to accommodate state-of-the-art technology and purpose built facilities for astronomy.


9 September 2005
Dusty old star offers window to our future, astronomers report

Astronomers have glimpsed dusty debris around an essentially dead star where gravity and radiation should have long ago removed any sign of dust. The discovery might provide insights into our own Solar System's eventual demise several billion years from now.

NGC 520

26 August 2005
Earth's final destiny

In the constellation of Pisces, some 100 million light-years from Earth, two galaxies are seen to collide - providing an eerie insight into the ultimate fate of our own planet when the Milky Way fatally merges with our neighbouring galaxy of Andromeda.

Illustration of possible dust producing collision

20 July 2005
Dustiest Star could harbour a young Earth

Results published in Nature today (July 21st) from observations carried out from the Gemini and W.M. Keck Observatories in Hawaii have revealed details about a relatively young dusty star located about 300 light years away - helping to greatly improve our understanding of the formation of Earth-like planets.

Illustration of Deep Impact and Comet Tempel 1

28 June 2005
The Comet Crash of 2005!

At O650 BST on Monday 4 July part of NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft will crash into Comet Tempel 1. Scientists hope it will make a crater in the comet somewhere between the size of a house and the size of a football field. This will let us find out exactly what is inside a comet. Astronomers around the world will be watching anxiously to see what they can learn from this giant experiment in space!

The Royal Observatory Edinburgh is holding two events to celebrate the mission...

M51 Whirlpool Galaxy

24 June 2005
1001 Hawaiian Nights dedicated to the cool and the far away!

British astronomers today (June 24th) saw the first images from an ambitious new programme of discovery, the UKIRT Infrared Deep Sky Survey (UKIDSS). The survey will scour the sky with the world's most powerful infrared survey camera (WFCAM) to find some of the dimmest and most distant objects in the Universe. UKIDSS will reach at least twenty times deeper than the largest current survey conducted at this wavelength.


08 June 2005
Astronomy in the fast lane!

UK scientists have opened a new window on the Universe with the recent commissioning of ULTRACAM on the European Southern Observatory's (ESO) Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile. This ultra fast camera is capable of capturing some of the most rapid astronomical events in the cosmos.

new building

17 May 2005
New astronomy facility comes on stream

The UK's foremost facility for the design and construction of astronomical instruments, the UK Astronomy Technology Centre [UK ATC] located at the Royal Observatory Edinburgh, has today [17th May 2005] expanded and streamlined its facilities following the official opening by Jack McConnell, Scottish First Minister, of its new laboratories and associated offices.

Faulkes Telescope North with milky way

21 March 2005
Scottish Launch of the Faulkes Telescope Project

The Faulkes Telescope Project aims to inspire pupils in science, technology and maths by giving them access to some of the most exciting and inspirational astronomical instruments available for use in the classroom. The Project was launched in Scotland today by the Royal Observatory Edinburgh and John Brown, the Astronomer Royal for Scotland, at the Royal Museum, National Museum of Scotland.

Faulkes Telescope North with milky way

03 March 2005
Scottish Launch of the Faulkes Telescope Project Media Invitation: 21 March 2005

The Faulkes Telescope Project, funded by British entrepreneur Dill Faulkes, offers two research quality telescopes to schools for live robotic observing. On March 21st the project will be launched in Scotland. The media are invited to join an audience of astronomers and educators, to participate in a live observing session in the Lecture Theatre of the Royal Museum, Edinburgh.

Moon rock samples

01 February 2005
Sun and Moon Day Half Term Special Event: 15 February

On Tuesday February the 15 the Royal Observatory Edinburgh will be open for a Half Term Special Event. We have a wide range of activities to interest the whole family! On that day we will be able to observe the Sun and the Moon at the same time. We will use our solar telescopes to look at the Sun to see if there are any sun spots and we will use astronomical telescopes to look at the Moon.

Orion Nebula

22 December 2004
World's Most Powerful Infrared Camera Opens Its Eyes on the Heavens

*Stunning image of Orion released*

A new astronomical camera has begun operations on the United Kingdom Infrared Telescope (UKIRT) in Hawaii. The Wide Field Camera (WFCAM), built at the UK Astronomy Technology Centre (UK ATC), Edinburgh, is the world's most powerful infrared survey camera. It will survey large regions of the sky at infrared wavelengths and is expected to discover both the nearest objects outside our Solar System and the farthest known objects in the Universe.

Artist's Impression of Aurore Simonnet

11 November 2004
Polaroid Sunglasses let astronomers take a closer look at Black Holes

An international team led by an Edinburgh astronomer have discovered that by studying polarised light from black holes they can focus much more closely on what exactly is going on around them. The work is published this week in the monthly notices of the Royal Astronomical Society on November 11th.

Shooting stars over the Royal Observatory Edinburgh

07 September 2004
Close Encounter with Solar System Elder

The asteroid Vesta will be at its closest to the Earth tomorrow (8 September 2004) for several years. This is a great opportunity to see it since the sky will be quite dark with a young moon.

Although Vesta makes its closest approach to Earth tomorrow, it will be easiest to see in the night sky on 17 September. Come to the Royal Observatory Visitor Centre to find out where to look for this minor planet. As the nights draw in over the next few weeks, activity at the Royal Observatory Visitor Centre really gets going.

Artist's impression of the Tau Ceti landscape

06 July 2004
Going gets tough for life in other Solar Systems

Though the star Tau Ceti is similar to the Sun, any planets it has are unlikely to be havens for life, say a team of UK astronomers. Using submillimetre images of the disk of material surrounding Tau Ceti, they found that it must contain more than ten times as many comets and asteroids than there are in the Solar System. With so many more space rocks hurtling around the star, devastating collisions of the sort that could lead to the destruction of life would be much more likely in the Tau Ceti system than in our own planetary system.

Path of Venus across the Sun's disk

23 April 2004
Transit of Venus: Special events across Scotland to view this major planetary event

Scotland's astronomers are calling all teachers, pupils and the public to get ready for the Transit of Venus on 8 June 2004. The transit happens when the planet Venus passes directly between the Earth and the Sun, appearing as a dark spot on the Sun's disk. It happens every hundred years or so and for centuries astronomers have been measuring the transit to calculate the distance to the Sun. The last transit was in 1882 so no-one alive today has seen this event. The transit lasts 6 hours and can be safely observed with simple equipment. IT IS NOT SAFE TO LOOK DIRECTLY AT THE SUN.


26 March 2004
Hubble's successor - UK takes lead role

The Hubble Space Telescope has brought the wonder and spectacle of the Universe into every home. Its successor, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) due to be launched in 2011, will have a 6.5 metre diameter mirror - 2.5 times larger than Hubble - enabling it to produce even sharper and more spectacular images from the farthest depths of the cosmos.



24 March 2004
The Life Cycle of Astronomy - Building and using the best telescopes in the world

Royal Observatory, Edinburgh Open Days

As part of the 2004 Edinburgh International Science Festival the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh will be opening its doors to the public on 3rd and 4th April (11am - 5pm). Activities, talks and demonstrations will be centred around the Life Cycle of Astronomy. You can find out how the Observatory is involved in every step of astronomy, from asking the big science questions, to designing new instruments, storing and analysing the masses of new data, to revealing new discoveries before finally, once again, asking the next big questions....


01 December 2003
New evidence for Solar-like planetary system round nearby star

Astronomers at the UK Astronomy Technology Centre at the Royal O
bservatory, Edinburgh have produced compelling new evidence that Vega, one of the brightest stars in the sky, has a planetary system around it which is more like our own Solar System than any other so far discovered.


26 September 2003
Astronomers to coldly go where no-one has gone before

Astronomers are poised to take another giant leap into some of the coldest regions of space following the announcement that Canada will join the UK in developing a new generation camera for the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (JCMT) in Hawaii - the world's largest telescope for studying astronomy at sub-millimetre wavelengths.

Distant galaxies

17 September 2003
Distant star bursts provide key to the origin of galaxies

Revealing images produced by one of the world's most sophisticated telescopes are enabling a team of Edinburgh astronomers to see clearly for the first time how distant galaxies were formed 12 billion years ago.

Visitor Centre Logo

15 July 2003
New focus on science education for Royal Observatory Edinburgh Visitor Centre

The Royal Observatory (Edinburgh) Trust, in partnershp with Moray House School of Education, Our Dynamic Earth and the Scottish Earth Science Education Forum, has secured a £300,000 contract from the Scottish Executive to provide Continuing Professional Development (CPD) training for science teachers in Scotland. The 12 month project will be a cornerstone of the Royal Observatory's re-focussed educational activities.

Galaxy NGC 628

8 April 2003
Telescopes - Changing our view of the Universe

As part of the 2003 Edinburgh International Science Festival the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh will be opening its doors to the public on 12 and 13 April (11am - 5pm).

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10 October 2002
Astronomers discover the wake of a planet around a nearby star

An international team of astronomers today report the discovery of a huge distorted disk of cold dust surrounding Fomalhaut - one of the brightest stars in the sky.

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4 October 2002
Astronomers 'slice up' galaxies

New views of the heart of a spiral galaxy and star birth in our own galaxy have been made by a state of the art astronomical instrument, just installed on the United Kingdom Infrared Telescope (UKIRT) in Hawaii.

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24 September 2002
Ships Astronomer tells tails of life on the Endeavour

David Floyd, astronomer and navigator on BBC2's 'The Ship' launches the Royal Observatory winter programme.

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17 July 2002
Edinburgh Technology Heads for Hawaii

Scientists at the UK Astronomy Technology Centre (UK ATC), part of the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh today (17 July 2002) will wave goodbye to 5 years work as UIST, the latest instrument to be completed, is shipped off to Hawaii.

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1 July 2002 VISTA
Commissions World’s Largest f/1 Primary Mirror

Development of the world's most powerful astronomical survey telescope took a further step forward last week (26 June 2002) with the signing of a contract for the polishing of the primary mirror for the Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (VISTA).

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18 June 2002
Summer Space Odyssey: The summer's coming, ever wondered why?

Visit the summer exhibition World in a Spin at the Royal Observatory Visitor Centre to find out what makes it warmer in the summer and colder in the winter.

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4 April 2002
Experience the Magic of Stardust! Royal Observatory, Edinburgh Open Days

As part of the 2002 Edinburgh International Science Festival the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh will be opening its doors to the public on 13 and 14 April (11am - 5pm).

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12 March 2002
Magnetic lights

As part of National Science Week the Royal Observatory Visitor Centre is holding a special lecture to explain the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights.