Telescope will ‘open up the sky’ to everyone

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ASTRONOMY has been given a boost with a huge grant.

Hampshire Astronomical Society has been awarded £20,000 by the South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA) to build a new telescope which will allow disabled people to see the solar system.

Currently the group, which is based at Clanfield Observatory, uses a large telescope which is difficult to get to.

The funding from the SDNPA is a huge boost towards the £100,000 needed for the new, more compact telescope and mount which is on order and should be in place by next summer.

Graham Bryant, chairman of the society, said: ‘The telescope we currently use was designed in the 1960s and built in the early 1970s. It was a very different environment then.

‘It’s not really accessible children or people who are disabled because there are a very tall sets of ladders to climb.

‘If you want to see nebulae, comets or galaxies, it’s difficult. We want to open the skies up to everyone.

‘We can’t thank the authority enough for this grant – it is much more than we expected.

‘They have been very good to us and they are very good to work with.’

The new telescope has also received funding from the University of Portsmouth which uses the observatory for research, members of

the public, and large donations from members of the group.

Ken Bodfish, chairman of the SDNPA’s sustainable communities fund panel, said: ‘The latest projects supported by the fund are great examples of the drive, innovation and community spirit of people living and working across the South Downs National Park and we’re proud to give them our support.

‘Any partnership, voluntary group or organisation can apply for SDNPA sustainable communities funding for non-profit making projects that bring social, environmental, economic or cultural benefits to communities within the national park.’

· The observatory is holding a public Sun Live event on June 16 and July 14. Special filters will be used to look at the sun. Go to hantsastro.org.uk to book.