Published: Tuesday, 18th April 2023
A new observatory on the clifftops in Hunstanton will provide opportunities for people to study the stars – and the world around them.
Hunstanton Observatory aims to support year-round tourism in west Norfolk with a facility that is especially suited for use outside the main summer season.
The flat-roof astronomical observatory boasts a solar panel structure, visitor interpretation panel and associated small-scale landscaping work. It will primarily provide a venue for night sky observation using telescopes and binoculars, and for astrophotography.
However, its use is not limited to astronomy. It will also serve as a bookable venue for other suitable night-time activities by local and national groups, such as nocturnal wildlife observation, daytime activities such as solar astronomy (observing and photographing the Sun), and as a wildlife and environmental hub for research, educational events and classes, and environmental awareness events.
The building itself features a rolling roof, enabling the entire roof to be rolled onto an adjacent support structure so the sky can be observed from inside the building.
To celebrate its opening, the borough council is running a night sky amateur photography competition. The winning photograph will be permanently installed on the clifftop site’s exterior interpretation panel. The competition is open for submissions from 22 April to May 19 and will be judged in late May.
The observatory officially launches on 22 April and is bookable from 24 April. A small number of places is still available at the launch event, for astronomy, wildlife or educational groups.
Alan Gosling, chair of King’s Lynn and District Astronomy Society, said: “As a society promoting astronomy we welcome new opportunities for people to learn about the stars and enjoy the wonders that are to be found in the night sky.
“The design and location of the observatory mean that it can also be used by a variety of groups for many purposes, such as nature and geography activities, and we wish it every success.”
The observatory has been funded by the European EXPERIENCE fund, which aims to support sustainable off-season local tourism that focuses on heritage, culture and outdoor experiences.