The project

'Observatory Sites and Networks since 1780' commenced on 1 September 2021 and is led by Royal Museums Greenwich and National Museums Scotland, together with project partners Cambridge University Library, the Royal Observatory Edinburgh, and Armagh Observatory and Planetarium. It is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

Inspired by the forthcoming 350th anniversary of the Royal Observatory, Greenwich in 2025, this research networking project will consist of four workshops intended to bring together UK and international scholars who research observatory histories with curators, educators, astronomers and others who work within relevant sites today.

Timetable of Events

6-8 December 2021   Workshop 1  Online via Zoom Find out more
24-25 March 2022 Workshop 2  Greenwich and online via Zoom Find out more
28-29 June 2022 Workshop 3 Edinburgh Find out more
Autumn 2022 Workshop 4 Armagh Information available soon


Themes of the workshops

1) 'Absorbing, adapting and influencing new technologies': will explore the processes by which new disciplines, techniques and instrumentation were taken up within observatories in the 19th and 20th centuries and how they were influenced by local, national, imperial and international contexts.

2) 'Living and working at the observatory': will consider observatories as workplaces and homes, investigating the experiences and opportunities of the men, women and children connected to them, from directors and assistants to families and hired labour.

3) 'Historic observatory networks': will explore connections between observatories, which relied on the circulation of knowledge, texts, instruments and people, and the relationships between national, provincial, colonial and amateur observatories.

4) 'Contemporary observatory networks': will focus on current opportunities and challenges in the preservation and interpretation of observatory sites, learning from previous experience and drawing on the histories explored in the previous workshops.

Our objectives

We hope to inspire future collaborative research into the collections, archive material and architecture of historic observatories. We also intend to provide support and inspiration for curatorial colleagues as we consider the long-term legacy of these sites of astronomical heritage and explore how best to bring their stories to life for future audiences.

Meet the team

Principal Investigator (PI): Dr Louise Devoy, Senior Curator: Royal Observatory, Greenwich

Co-Investigator (Co-I): Dr Rebekah Higgitt, Principal Curator of Science, National Museums Scotland

Dr Daniel Belteki, Sackler ROG 350 Research Fellow, Royal Museums Greenwich

Dr Lee Macdonald, Sackler ROG 350 Research Fellow, Royal Museums Greenwich

Academic Advisory Group

Dr Ileana Chinnici, INAF-Osservatorio Astronomico di Palermo, Italy

Professor Omar Nasim, University of Regensburg, Germany

Dr Pedro Raposo, Curator and Director of Collections, Adler Planetarium, USA

Professor Simon Schaffer, University of Cambridge, UK


Project Administrator, Royal Museums Greenwich Sally Archer:

Stay up to date

Follow @ObservatoryNet on Twitter for more information about the programme.