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Winter Viewing Season begins soon at Coats Observatory

Paisley observatory

Winter Viewing Season begins soon at Coats Observatory.

The changing of the clocks at the end of October may signal darker days and the onset of winter – but what better way to brighten up these dark winter nights than to view the wonders of the night sky.

Coats Observatory will once again open its doors on Tuesday and Thursday evenings to allow visitors the rare chance to see a wide variety of celestial delights through powerful telescopes.

Paisley observatory

Opened on 1 October 1883, Coats Observatory celebrates its 130th anniversary this year and continues to welcome anyone interested in astronomy, from absolute beginner to knowledgeable expert.

During the viewing evenings observatory staff shall train the telescope on the Moon, the planets and any other interesting objects visible in the skies above Paisley. There will also be telescopes set up in the Observatory garden trained on various points of interest for visitors who don’t wish to climb the stairs to the dome. Observatory staff will be on hand to answer any astronomically-related questions anyone may have.

This year, right at the start of winter viewing season, there may be the chance to spot the planet Venus, which will be low in the sky in the west about an hour after the sun sets. Venus is covered in thick clouds and shines very brightly in the sky – it is in fact the source of many reports of UFOs!

By mid November Jupiter, the largest planet in our Solar System, will start to rise by 8pm. This gas giant is a fantastic sight through the telescope, revealing gas bands which encircle the planet’s atmosphere, its four brightest moons and even the Great Red Spot, a gigantic storm three times the size of the Earth.

Late November will also see the appearance of a very bright comet. Comet Ison, only discovered in September 2012, will pass very close to the Sun on November 28. If it emerges intact from its journey past our nearest star it should have brightened up enormously – it has been predicted that it might even be visible in daylight! Hopefully Comet Ison will be one of the highlights of the astronomical year.

Winter viewing nights at Coats Observatory will run every Tuesday and Thursday from 29 Oct 2013 to 27 March 2014 from 6.30pm – 9pm. Winter viewing is FREE and there is no need to book, last admission is 8.45pm.

For the duration of the winter viewing season the Observatory will also run a pre-viewing Planetarium Show every Thursday evening from 6pm – 6.30pm. The Planetarium show gives a virtual guided tour of the night sky from the comfort of your chair. Admission to the Planetarium show is free, but spaces are limited. Please call Paisley Museum on 0300 300 1210 to book a place in advance.

Visitors should note that winter viewing nights can only go ahead in good weather and will not run in the event of overcast skies or high winds. In the event of inclement weather Coats Observatory will operate Planetarium shows, talks and guided tours of the building.

For further information on Renfrewshire Arts & Museums’ events log on to www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/events or follow us on Facebook www.facebook.com/renfrewshirearts or Twitter @RenArtsMuseums.

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Coats Observatory 130th Anniversary

Thomas Coats Observatory

Coats Observatory 130th Anniversary

Tuesday 1 October will mark the 130th anniversary of the opening of Coats Observatory. To commemorate this event the observatory will play host to an evening of astronomical-themed events.

Coats Observatory is Scotland’s oldest public observatory. A gift to the town from the Paisley Philosophical Institution and funded primarily by Thomas Coats of the Coats thread-manufacturing family, Coats Observatory first opened its doors to the public on the night of October the first, 1883. Coats Observatory was the first purpose-built observatory in Scotland which allowed members of the public access to a powerful telescope to see the wonders of the universe up close.

Thomas Coats Observatory

The building now operates as a visitor attraction and museum. During the day visitors can enjoy a guided tour around the building, taking in some of the fantastic Victorian-era scientific equipment once used to record earthquakes, the weather and observe the stars and take in the view from the balcony. In the winter months the observatory opens twice a week to keep up the tradition of allowing members of the public to look at the night sky through the telescope. If the weather is poor a state of the art digital planetarium provides a virtual tour of the cosmos without having to leave the comfort of your seat.

To celebrate its 130th anniversary Coats Observatory will open from 7pm to 10pm on Tuesday 1 October. Amongst the activities on offer will be planetarium films, guided tours, a talk on the history of the institution and, weather permitting, night sky viewing from 9pm – 10pm. If the weather prevents the use of the telescope planetarium shows will operate instead.

Admission to Coats Observatory is free, although places must be booked for the planetarium films as spaces are limited. Please call Paisley Museum on 0300 300 1210 to book. Films will operate at 7.30pm, 8pm and 8.30pm.

Entry to Coats Observatory that evening will be via 49 Oakshaw Street West, Paisley, PA1 2DR.

For any other information on the event, please contact Coats Observatory on 0141 618 5119.

For further information on Renfrewshire Arts & Museums’ events log on to www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/events or follow us on Facebook www.facebook.com/renfrewshirearts or Twitter @RenArtsMuseums.

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Renfrew Trinity Church

Renfrew Trinity Church

Renfrew Trinity Church

The memorial stone for this building was laid by Sir Peter Coats in 1864 it was opened for worship the following year. In the 1970’s the colourful glass bricks replaced some of the existing stained glass windows and several items in the church were gifted by the organisations which met there.

All photographs taken by Anne McNair for www.paisley.org.uk