Observatory & Planetarium

Bedford School has the largest school Observatory in the South-East region and is currently the only school in the UK to have its own Observatory and Planetarium. Sited on the Bedford School estate, the Observatory and Planetarium are operated by the School’s Astronomer in conjunction with members of the Bedford Astronomical Society.

Observatory

The Piazzi Smyth Observatory was opened in October 2000 and provides an important resource in the teaching and public understanding of Astronomy.

The Observatory was named in honour of Charles Piazzi Smyth (OB) who was Astronomer Royal for Scotland for many years and a pioneer of high altitude observing. The project was funded by major grants from The Bedford School Trust, The Harpur Trust and The Wolfson Foundation, along with other generous donations from local businesses and Old Bedfordians.

The main 5m dome houses a Meade LX 200 16" computer controlled telescope which gives stunning views of the Moon, Planets and Deep Sky Objects.  Several portable telescopes ranging from 6" to 13" diameter are also used from the outside observation deck.

The Wolfson Planetarium

The adjacent Wolfson Planetarium, opened by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh in May 2002, houses a 4 metre dome and star projector.

The Planetarium acts as a valuable resource room and is available for use by schools and community groups for meetings, slide shows and projected views of the night sky.

Arrange a visit to the Observatory

If you wish to arrange a visit to the observatory, please email our Head of Astronomy, Mr Linton Guise, at observatory@bedfordschool.org.uk. We recommend that you read our Guide for Observatory Visits before your visit.

Astronomy Courses

The School also runs a series of short courses in Astronomy at the Observatory and Planetarium.

Find Out More

Observatory & Planetarium Gallery