Norman Lockyer Observatory

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The Norman Lockyer Observatory was begun by Sir Joseph Norman Lockyer (1836-1920), astronomer, as The Hill Observatory in 1912. Following the completion of building work at the site at Salcombe Regis, near Sidmouth, Devon, solar work commenced in 1913 using the Kensington telescope which had been brought from the observatory in South Kensington. The Observatory was officially established as a charitable trust in 1916, and was renamed in Lockyer's honour in the year after his death by his family, who continued to play an important role in the running of the observatory.

Following a generous endowment from Robert Mond, the Observatory was established as a centre of astronomical excellence, and later became The Norman Lockyer Observatory Corporation of the University of Exeter (University College of the South West of England until 1955). The principal telescopes were donated by Lockyer and by Francis McLean, who had originally suggested the building of the observatory. A further telescope was donated by Robert Mond in 1932.

Lockyer's son Dr. W.J.S. (James) Lockyer held the post of Director from 1920 until his own early death in 1936, when he was succeeded by the assistant astronomer D.L. Edwards. After the Second World War, additional funds were provided by the University College of the South West (now the University of Exeter), and enabled the Observatory to continue operations. Donald Edwards died in 1956 and his assistant D.R. Barber continued astronomical work until his retirement in 1961. The site was then used for various geophysical observations until it was sold to East Devon District Council in 1986. The Council then refurbished the site (including the Frank McLean telescope), and the Observatory was reopened in 1989 for operation jointly by the Sidmouth Astronomical and Radio Societies, who merged to form the newly extended Norman Lockyer Observatory in 1995. A lending library is located at the Observatory, and some book and archive materials are also held temporarily at the University of Exeter Library pending the provision of permanent storage facilities at the Observatory.

From the guide to the Papers relating to the Norman Lockyer Observatory, 1851-1985, (University of Exeter)

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creatorOf Papers relating to the Norman Lockyer Observatory, 1851-1985 University of Exeter
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associatedWith Lockyer Sir Joseph Norman 1836-1920 person
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