The Royal Observatory Edinburgh is an A-listed historic site containing a functioning observatory that's an educational centre and workplace for almost 140 students and staff members. The astronomy tower holds the biggest telescope in Scotland and provides stunning 360-degree views of the surrounding countryside. You can marvel at the exquisite architecture of the authentic Victorian buildings you'll see, as well as iconic Scottish landmarks.

    The Royal Observatory Visitor Centre was established to advocate for the common interest of science education and astronomy, with an emphasis on the work being done at the Royal Observatory Edinburgh. The centre is open for special events, including Astronomy Evenings, a romantic stargazing event, and Monday night discussions on various astronomy topics with experienced speakers. In September, you can also attend a Doors Open Days Weekend where visitors can tour the premises and attend lectures. There is also a gift shop onsite where you can purchase funny and unique astronomy gifts.

    Highlights of Royal Observatory Edinburgh

    The observatory is made up of the Royal Observatory Visitor Centre, the UK Astronomy Technology Center and the Royal Observatory Library. The technology centre is an integral part of the Astronomy Program at the University of Edinburgh. The cutting-edge laboratories found here are used in the design and production of specialised cameras and other parts for some of the greatest telescopes around the globe, and scientists have also begun to focus on applying their expertise to other fields like medicine and observation of the earth. The Royal Observatory Library still houses a rare collection of books donated by Lord Lindsay in the 1890s. The collection includes first editions of some of the most important books in astronomy, such as writings by Galileo and Newton.

    History Of Royal Observatory Edinburgh

    The original Royal Observatory was located on Calton Hill near Edinburgh town centre. Because of insufficient funding and obsolete instruments and buildings, the observatory was under threat by a proposal to have the site demolished. To save the observatory, the Earl of Crawford, Lord Lindsay, donated his personal, rare collection of scientific books, as well as a large amount of astronomy equipment. The government, in turn, agreed to fund and maintain the new site. The Royal Observatory Edinburgh was established on Blackford Hill in 1896, and the new building was outfitted with laboratories, a library and offices. The modern telescopes were located in 2 revolving domes adorned in copper, and those telescopes continued to be used up until the 1970s.

    photo by Magnus Hagdorn (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    Good to know about Royal Observatory Edinburgh 

    You'll find the observatory located on top of Blackford Hill, west of Craigmillar Park Golf Course. Reservations are required, as the Royal Observatory is an active place of business and drop-in visits cannot be accepted. While on Blackford Hill, you can enjoy a hike to the summit for magnificent views of the surrounding area. The Hermitage of Braid and Blackford Hill Nature Reserve also offer nature-rich trails to explore alongside the river.

    Many of Edinburgh’s other incredible attractions are near the Royal Observatory Edinburgh, such as the National Museum of Scotland and Pickering’s Gin Distillery. If you want some fun with friends after touring the observatory grounds, visit Locked in Edinburgh for an exciting escape room experience, or try out your lumberjack skills at Black Axe Throwing Co. The area offers great opportunities to enjoy a picnic outside, or you can visit a local pub for lunch or dinner. If you're up for hitting the greens, you can also find several picturesque golf clubs in the area to play a few rounds.

    Royal Observatory Edinburgh

    Location: Blackford Hill, Edinburgh EH9 3HJ, UK

    Phone: +44 (0)1316 688100

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