A public solar telescope in the historical Leiden Observatory
The historical Old Observatory builds a new telescope for the first time in 68 years: a solar telescope for public use. The project is a unique collaboration between astronomers, volunteers, and the public. With your help everyone will soon be able to enjoy a one-meter sized live projection of the sun in the visitor center of the Old Observatory. Such a spectacular image is a beautiful introduction into the amazing world of science and technology: an inspiration for young and old alike.
To build the telescope € 19.800 is required, as the instrument has to be custom-designed and carefully integrated into the historical building. You can make it happen!
The solar eclipse
2015 is a fantastic year for observations of the sun. This year is a solar maximum, the period of greatest activity in the 11-year solar cycle with the largest number of sunspots and solar flares. Even better, a partial solar eclips will take place on March 20 2015, where the Moon will cover 84% of the sun. This is last significant eclipse until 2026.
Over the past 6 months we worked hard to realize the designs and planning for the solar telescope. Our team consists of students and astronomers of Leiden University, volunteers from the Werkgroep Leidse Sterrewacht, and students and staff of the Leidse Instrumentenmakers School. We are ready and eager to start to building the telescope, but we need your help. With your support we can immediately start purchasing the telescope parts and complete the project in time for the eclipse of 20 March 2015.
Our solar telescope consists of three main parts: a heliostat, a long tube, and a telescope with projection optics. The heliostat is a computer controlled device on the rooftop of the Old Observatory that automatically tracks the sun. It will reflect the sunlight into a 12 meter long tube straight through the building to the visitor center in the basement. There a solar telescope in a see-through construction will magnify and project a one-meter live image of the sun on a wall.
The life-sized image will be visibile for everyone: the showpiece of a new exhibit later this year that will take you on a journey through the Universe, all the way back to the Big Bang! The solar telescope will be a wonderful addition for the visitor center of the historical Observatory, stimulating its role as a center for science popularization and outreach.
An old tradition
Did you know that the Old Observatory itself was partly crowdfunded back in the day? The Dutch people and students and professors from Leiden collected a considerable sum in 1854. Let's honor this tradition! We thank you wholeheartedly for your support!
Prof. mr. Carel Stolker – Rector Magnificus Universiteit Leiden
“A solar telescope in the beautifully restored Old Observatory, a showpiece of university and city. This telescope will be a wonderful introduction to Astronomy and to the amazing world of science and technology.
Prof. dr. Huub Rottgering – Scientific director Leiden Observatory
“This is a beautiful initiative, where everyone will soon be able to see the activity on the surface of the sun in all its splendour".
Dr. Frans Snik – Astronomer
"It is really fantastic that we are building a new telescope in the Netherlands once again. And that in unique collaboration between engineers, astronomers, and the general public!"