Bayfordbury Observatory is the University of Hertfordshire's astronomical and atmospheric physics remote sensing observatory, and one of the largest teaching observatories in the UK. It is located in the relatively dark countryside of Bayfordbury, Hertfordshire, 15km from the main university campus in Hatfield. The first telescope was built in 1969, and since then has been used as a teaching observatory for undergraduate students, staff and student research as well as for public outreach activities.
The observatory houses seven permanently mounted optical telescopes, the first and largest being the 20-inch J.C.D Marsh Cassegrain Telescope. Other telescopes include four equatorially-mounted, computer-controlled 16-inch Meade LX200s, a 14-inch Meade LX200 and a 14-inch Celestron Schmidt-cassegrain. These telescopes can be equipped with research-grade CCD cameras, spectrographs, video cameras and a high-sensitivity Lucky imaging camera. A number of smaller telescopes are co-mounted to the main telescopes to act as guidescopes, widefield telescopes or H-alpha solar telescopes.
As well as using optical wavelengths, the observatory also has extensive radio astronomy capabilities. The largest radio telescope is the 4.5m R.W. Forrest telescope which is used for receiving the 21cm Hydrogen line. A further three 3m radio telescopes are soon to operate together as a 115 metre baseline interferometer. There is also a 2-meter band radio receiver for detecting reflections from the ionisation trails of incoming meteors.
The observatory has close ties with the nearby Science Learning Centre for the East of England, which has a planetarium used during open evenings and groups visits. The roof of the building also hosts a Sky Quality Meter for quantifying levels of light pollution, a coelostat for observing the sun, and a night-time all-sky camera - the first of four the university runs throughout the UK. The university organises a variety of public outreach events including monthly open evenings from October till March and group visits for school classes and community groups.
Atmospheric Physics Remote Sensing:
Since 2010 the observatory has grown to serve as a remote sensing station for the Centre for Atmospheric & Instrumentation Research. One of the domes that housed a decommissioned telescope now houses a remotely-operable mount with a micropulse LIDAR and ultra-sensitive sun polarimeter, with further plans to add an infra-red spectropolarimeter in the near-future. The roof of the nearby Science Learning Centre also hosts an automatic sun photometer as part of the NASA AERONET network and a night-time all-sky camera.
J.C.D. Marsh Telescope - 20" Cassegrain
C.R. Kitchin Telescope - Robotic 16" Meade LX200GPS
I.K.M. Nicolson Telescope - 16" Meade LX200
R.W. Forrest Telescope - 4.5m radio telescope
Vince Telescope - 1860s 6.75" refractor