History of The Norman Lockyer Observatory Society

The Norman Lockyer Observatory Society grew out of the activities of the Sidmouth and District Astronomy Society and the Sidmouth Amateur Radio Society, both of which had been eyeing with interest the facilities and location of the then dormant NLO. SIDDAS began to make some use of the site and to take visitors around.

East Devon District Council became the owners in 1984 and allowed the societies increasing access, resulting in a licence agreement between them and the Council. In 1995 the societies joined to form the Norman Lockyer Observatory Society and entered into a lease with the new owners to use the site, to maintain it and to make it more accessible to the public.

Since then the Society has grown and its facilities have greatly increased.

Norman Lockyer Observatory Society Time-line

1972

Sidmouth & District Astronomy Society (SIDDAS) formed.

1974

Members of SIDDAS begin to get access to NLO telescopes.

1978

Exeter University, the owners of the site, cease to use it.

1979

SIDDAS has around 30 members.

1982

SIDDAS members are conducting visitors around the Observatory.

1983

The newly-formed Sidmouth Amateur Radio Society (SARS) show interest in using the site for transmissions.

1984

The Observatory is sold and acquired by the East Devon District Council.

1987

SIDDAS membership passes 50.

1989

The McClean dome is restored, the Mond converted into a small planetarium for SIDDAS's public work, and a meeting room and radio room are built onto the Mond ante-room. Both SIDDAS and SARS use the building under a licence agreement with EDDC.

1995

SIDDAS and SARS join to form the Norman Lockyer Observatory Society. EDDC lease the Observatory to NLOS. NLOS membershipo passes 100.

1996

The building is further extended by the addition of an exhibition area, larger planetarium and second radio room.

1997

The restored Lockyer telescopoe is moved into the Mond dome.

1999

Members build the Victoria dome for Orion telescope.

2002

NLOS membership passes 200.

2004

Glass negatives returned to NLO from Science Museum.

2005

Spitz projector from Royal Observatory Greenwich installed in the planetarium, replacing the existing projector.

2006

Donald Barber Lecture Theatre is built with funds raised by the Society. The Society holds its first South West Astronomy Fair.

2007

The NLO library is returned from Exeter University.