Following the untimely death of long standing member and past President, Mr Eric Tomney, the Society was bequeathed a generous sum of money to be used solely for the construction of an observatory building for use by members.  The Society formed a sub-committee of the ASG Council to plan the building of the observatory, to be known as the "Eric Tomney Memorial Observatory" or ETMO for brevity.

After considering several sites for the observatory we selected a location close to the Mugdock Park Visitor Centre.  This offers a well-known location not too far from Glasgow but with reasonably dark skies.  It also has the potential for ASG events to be staged in collaboration with Mugdock Park using its visitor centre.

The project has been delayed for a number of reasons but particularly because we lost society Treasurer Tom Clackson to a sudden heart attack.  Not only was Tom a driving force behind ETMO but he was a friend to many of us in the society and his loss was a real blow.

Putting this and other difficulties behind us we rebooted the project in 2019 and have now appointed architects who have created a new design for which we have planning permission from East Dunbartonshire.  We have also obtained a number of quotes from construction companies and as of October 2020 are about to make a Building Warrant application to Stirling Council. (Mugdock Country Park land lies within Stirling council’s area but it is leased to East Dunbartonshire council because it is most used by residents of East Dunbartonshire.)

The current design of the observatory has one 3m diameter dome housing a 14 inch reflecting telescope, both generously donated by accomplished supernova hunter Tom Boles, with a mount and auxiliary piggy-backed scopes and other equipment that will allow us to use it for both visual eyepiece observing and imaging.  We will also have an area for storage and some workspace downstairs. Although the observatory will not be operable remotely from the outset we have left that as an option for the future.  We will however have internet access to it and plan to have a small weather mast, an all-sky camera and a security system.

We had imposed a deadline of having the observatory up and running by December 2020 but as with many projects, COVID-19 has interrupted our schedule and also pushed up the costs of construction.  We are committed to seeing the project through and now aim for the observatory to be built and operational in 2021.

The image below shows an illustration of what the observatory will look like though this may well be revised as we progress through the building warrant stage.  Note that we plan to power the observatory with solar panels and possibly a small wind turbine charging batteries.  The solar panels can be seen at the front of the observatory facing south.  Note the unusually steep pitch of the panels which is needed to maximise the solar energy we can capture from the low winter Sun.  At the right of the image is the fenced enclosure of the existing weather station at Mugdock which sits at the top of the overflow car park.  



If you would like to know more about the observatory or offer donations of equipment, money or contribute expertise please email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Dr Andrew Conway FRAS
President
Astronomical Society of Glasgow,
October 2020