The New Forest Observatory is a private observatory run by Prof. Greg Parker from his home in Brockenhurst, Hampshire. At the current location it is not, unfortunately, open to the public. However, if the current plan to change the Sodium street lights around here to white light LED lamps goes ahead – then I will have to up sticks and move to another (New Forest) location with less local light pollution – and then I will purchase a property with more land and the possibility of a Visitor Centre and public involvement.
On a fairly regular basis I receive e-mails from people asking if they or their children can “look through the telescopes”. Well, as stated above, the observatories are not open to the public – but in any case, as the telescopes are used solely for imaging, there are no eyepieces to look through, so it is not possible to “look through the telescopes” anyway. I also get asked whether it would be possible to visit on such and such a date to film the observatories in operation or to see how they are run. The trouble with that one is the British weather. It is all well and good to choose a date which is convenient for you to visit, but the British weather has a mind of its own, and it is highly likely that your date will coincide with completely overcast skies. To give you an example, for the last 3 months I think I have had a total of 5 imaging nights. But – although the New Forest Observatory is not readily accessible – there are (at last count) ten Astronomical Societies in Hampshire where you can go along, learn some astronomy, and even look through telescopes. Google “astronomy clubs societies Hampshire” to find the one closest to you.
Finally, I am afraid that at the present time, and in the present location I cannot offer you any work or internships at the observatory – much as I would like to. Once again, if I am forced to move to a darker site with more land, as looks very likely, then that situation may well change.
I hope that clears up what the New Forest Observatory is – and is not – and I hope you are not too disappointed.
But – please don’t forget – although the observatories are not open to the public – we do offer Introductory courses on deep-sky imaging, and on photography in general. Please see the “courses” section for more details.
Where to next Greg, the Brecons?…
Well that would be nice Pete. At least it looks like the people there understand the (tourist) value of having dark skies more than our brain-dead New Forest District Council people who are throwing away their semi-dark site by putting in white light LED street lighting throughout the whole County. I had the misfortune to attend a Council meeting to discuss this new LED lighting and do you know what key question came up? Would the new lamp posts be the same colour as the old ones!!! Jeez – we really are living in the Idiocracy.