New Dome

Spence Crane Hire Ltd helps Norman Lockyer Observatory reach for the stars Astronomers at Sidmouth's Norman Lockyer Observatory (NLO) have been eagerly awaiting the installation of their new Stargazer Dome to house a 20" Newtonian Telescope.

Just one problem - the dome weighs one metric tonne, is five metres wide and needs to be lifted four metres up to be installed at the observatory.

David Strange, one of the NLOs Directors said " The new dome will enable us to observe and take more detailed images of deep space objects and we have been really excited about it for a long time."

" The observatory is a charity, which means that we don't always have as much money as we would like, and we are always delighted when local businesses are willing to help out."

" As a gesture of thanks, we are offering Spence Crane Hire Ltd honorary membership so they can come and see what a difference their help has made."

Sue Spence, from Spence Crane Hire Ltd, said: " When we got the call from Norman Lockyer Observatory with this rather unusual request we were only too happy to get involved."

A modern all-terrain crane with a lifting capacity of 7.9 ton, 4 wheel drive and Bluetooth remote control will be used. This crane is one of only two in the Westcountry, both owned by Spence Cranes. " We' re really looking forward to seeing the dome in action."

The new dome is intended for public and society use and was purchased after 2 years of fundraising.

Photographs of the dome being assembled can be found at:

Anyone interested in membership or further information are welcomed to contact:

Notes to editors:

* The Norman Lockyer Observatory in Sidmouth, Devon is a historic working optical observatory and an educational centre for science, especially astronomy, meteorology, amateur radio and sciences of the coast and countryside.

* It is operated by The Norman Lockyer Observatory Society, a registered charity. The Society promotes public awareness of and interest in science, and supports science education in schools, colleges and universities.

* The Observatory was established in 1912 by Sir Joseph Norman Lockyer to continue his astronomical research when his South Kensington observatory was closed. Now it provides a facility at which individuals and groups may participate in projects and pursue recreational study of science in a practical way.