Many boys studying Physics at Harrow School in London, the UK, also choose to study GCSE Astronomy. To support the teaching of the subject and stimulate boys’ interest in it, an astronomical observatory, equipped with a high-powered state-of-the-art telescope, has recently been purchased and installed on the roof of the Physics department.
The observatory can accommodate up to nine people at a time and the telescope can be operated from downstairs in the department. No other school, certainly in the UK, would have anything to match the high level specification of this observatory.
“The Rayleigh Observatory will be an awe-inspiring facility for all Harrovians and the entire School community to enjoy for years to come,” comments Mr Chris Barry, Head of Physics. “Its research-quality telescopes, cameras and filters will open up the wonders of the universe to all of us. We will produce astounding images of the Moon, planets, nebulae and even immensely distant galaxies, tens of millions of light years away. Its dedicated solar telescope will also enable us to observe the Sun in all its hyperactive and explosive glory during the forthcoming solar maximum.”
The telescope has been funded by Vikram and Meera Gandhi. The Grand Opening took place in November, when the Observatory was officially opened by Dr Nicholas Patrick, a famous NASA astronaut and alumnus of Harrow School, who has been on two missions to the International Space Station, carrying out three spacewalks to perform maintenance and construction of a new module on the Station on his second trip.
The Giving Back Foundation's motto, "We are to the universe only as much as we give back to it," is now inscribed on the Observatory wall at Harrow. Meera Gandhi said, "It is as important to support the growth of established institutions as it is to support grass roots institutions of learning for the underprivileged."
From left: Famed American astronaut Dr Nicholas Patrick and his wife Rossana; Meera and Vikram Gandhi; Mr. Chris Barry, head of Physics for Harrow School; the Head Master Mr. Jim Hawkins, and the principal contractor, Simon Bennet and his wife Elena Kostyaeva.