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Published: 06 February 2015

Surrey celebrates the launch of its new learning and outreach telescope

The University of Surrey’s Astrophysics Research Group recently celebrated the announcement of its new learning and outreach telescope on Stag Hill campus by holding a live demonstration, night-time lecture and observation session for Surrey students, staff and the general public.

The £100,000 telescope, dome and platform are key investments in the University’s astrophysics facilities, and will help students and academics explore the sky at night easily and effectively.

With over 250 registered attendants, Surrey also used the outdoor screen (sponsored by the South East Physics Network (SEPnet)) to present the final competition results from a planet-drawing contest aimed at school children.

Head of Surrey’s Department of Physics, Professor Paul Sellin, said, “The launch of the telescope is the culmination of a big journey for the Astrophysics Group. There have been many exciting developments, including the undergraduate Physics with Astronomy and Physics with Nuclear Astrophysics programmes. It’s great to see a representation of everyone involved at this launch event, to celebrate our teaching telescope facility.”

Professor Jonathan Seville, Dean of Surrey’s Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences, added, “I have the pleasure of opening this facility. We invest heavily in teaching facilities at Surrey, and the telescope is splendid. The telescope will be used by second-year undergraduate students on their astrophysics modules. The telescope will also be used for monthly public engagement events. Our new equipment supports engagement with SEPnet, which does wonders in raising the interest of physics in the South East. There are so many people to thank, in particular Professor Mark Gieles; Dr Vincent Henault-Brunet for the logistics; and the rest of the Astrophysics Research Group for their hard work and dedication. Thanks also go to Faculty Building Facilities Manager Marco Holness. I also want to thank Professor Paul Sellin.” 

“The start-up of the Astrophysics Group has been a tremendous, exciting adventure, and the completion of our telescope is one of the highlights,” commented Professor Mark Gieles. “Thanks to everybody for their help in realising this fantastic facility, in particular Marco Holness and Bob Derham for their help with the logistics, and of course, the Astrophysics Group, especially Justin Read and Vincent. We are also grateful to our friends of the Guildford Astronomical Society. Thank you all for coming.”

The team plans to host many more ‘Astro Evenings’ in the future. The next Astro Evening will likely go ahead on 18 March 2015.

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