Boyden Observatory

Boyden Observatory (IAU code 074) is an astronomical research observatory and science education centre. It was originally founded by Harvard University and placed near Lima, Peru in 1889. In 1927, it was moved to its present location just south of the small resort of Maselspoort, north-east of the city of Bloemfontein, South Africa, and is managed by the University of the Free State. It was named after Uriah A. Boyden, who in 1879 left in his will $238,000 to Harvard College Observatory to be used for astronomical purposes. Its first and longtime director was John S. Paraskevopoulos.

The Observatory houses the third largest optical telescope in South Africa, namely the 60-inch (1.5 meter) UFS-Boyden Rockefeller reflector. Other telescopes include the 13-inch (33 cm) Alvin Clark refractor which is over a century old, the historical 10-inch (25 cm) Metcalf Triplet refractor, the 16-inch (40 cm) Nishimura reflector, the 16-inch (40 cm) Watcher robotic telescope, a 20 cm Coelostat solar telescope and various smaller mobile telescopes.

Facilities include the main building where the original offices were and where the library is, the resident astronomer's house, a state-of-the-art auditorium seating 100 people inside and 200 people on its roof for open-air sky shows, the main telescope buildings, smaller telescope buildings, a lecture room, store room, the ASSA Bloemfontein clubhouse, observation platforms and various vantage points.

Boyden Observatory performs professional astrophysics research using the 1.5 meter reflector. In addition to the research program, the observatory runs an active educational program for school children from all backgrounds as well as for members of the public, attracting thousands of visitors each year.

The observatory is administered by the Physics Department of the University of the Free State with Dr. Matie Hoffman at the head of the educational program and Prof. Pieter Meintjes at the head of the research program. The Friends of Boyden assist the observatory as a public support group, organising open evenings and protecting its public interest. Boyden also makes use of members of ASSA Bloemfontein Centre, the amateur astronomy club of the city, for presenters and telescope assistants.

The observatory is constantly experiencing growth in visitor numbers and the extension of its facilities. Medium term plans call for e.g. the establishment of an educational walking route for visitors to appreciate the diverse natural life in the area, a museum and science exhibition areas, upgrading of the educational telescope facilities etc. Long term plans include the construction of a digital planetarium and the completion of the fully-fledged Science Hall.

External links

* [http://www.assabfn.co.za/friendsofboyden/boyden.htm Boyden Observatory]
* [http://www.assabfn.co.za/friendsofboyden/index.htm Friends of Boyden]
* [http://www.uovs.ac.za University of the Free State]

ee also

*List of astronomical observatories


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