Beacon Observatory celebrates three years of star-gazing

An observatory at the University has celebrated its third birthday after racking up over 400 nights and 2,000 hours of star-gazing.

The Beacon Observatory at the University’s Canterbury campus has also seen numerous visits by schools and other members of the community.

The facility, which is part of the School of Physical Sciences, has played a key role in the University’s outreach and engagement strategy since it opened. It has seen students attend an annual Space School event over the past two years, as well as welcoming students and teachers to a three-day A-level observing school.

The observatory also supports the University’s Public Engagement with Science project, with talks being given to amateur astronomers across the UK.

The facility has been important to research within the School of Physical Sciences, with a number of academic papers being published on observatory data on star formation and the properties of young stars.

The University has also participated in an observing campaign for comets organised by the Planetary Science Institute as well as follow up observations of transient objects detected by the Gaia satellite. Out of the 185 participating observatories, Kent submitted the fifth largest number of follow-up observations.

Future developments could see the Beacon Observatory linking up with a network of Italian observatories, specialising in investigations of exoplanet transits.