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Mills Observatory, Dundee

4.1
#9 of 14 in Childrens Museums in Scotland
The Mills Observatory in Dundee, Scotland, is the first purpose-built public astronomical observatory in the UK. Built in 1935, the observatory is classically styled in sandstone and has a distinctive 7 m dome, which houses a Victorian refracting telescope, a small planetarium, and display areas. The dome is one of two made from papier-mâché to survive in the UK, the other being at the Godlee Observatory.TelescopesThe main telescope is a 400mm Dobsonian reflector that was acquired in 2013. The observatory also houses a Victorian 0.25m Cooke refractor, with a focal length of 3.75 m. It was made in York in 1871 by Thomas Cooke and the optical components are of the highest quality. The telescope is actually older than the building. The dome also houses a 0.3m Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope, which was purchased in 2006. When the Mills Observatory opened on 28 October 1935, it originally housed a 450mm reflecting telescope, constructed by the Newcastle based company of Grubb Parsons. The dome itself is made of papier-mâché with a steel frame, and was also supplied by Grubb Parsons. Refracting telescopes have long been regarded as the superior instrument for planetary observing. During the winter evening hours, given clear sky conditions, the telescope is used to show the public the night sky.PlanetariumThe planetarium is based around a Viewlex Apollo projector, which simulates the night sky on a domed roof in a darkened room. Around 1000 stars are displayed, along with the naked eye planets and the Milky Way. Auxiliary units simulate a rotating galaxy, and provide pictures of astronomical objects. Seating is limited to 20 for public shows.
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Mills Observatory Reviews
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.0
70 reviews
Google
4.2
TripAdvisor
  • I loved our visit here, managed to get a good view of Jupiter before it clouded over. We arrived early for a planetarium show and a very kind couple who knew what they were doing managed to focus the ...  more »
  • I took my sons to the observatory and they had a great experience. They also learned more from this visit than they had with their own telescopes and books. The guide brought so much to the experience...  more »
  • We were pretty unlucky with the weather because we checked and it said it was going to be a clear night but unfortunately got a bit cloudy when we arrived there. The place itself is very old and you c...  more »
Google
  • Would have it no stars but does not have that option, so bloody boring 💤, would be great if you could not get to sleep. An hour of my life I will not get back
  • Very interesting but could be doing with some updating
  • Fantastic place to visit. Especially on the dark winter nights. Fascinating displays and best of all it's free.
  • Free and great views with the large telescope, also have lots of interesting items on show. Nice displays aswell
  • Had a great evening up with the big telescope 🙂 free entry as well which is awesome

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Where to stay in Dundee

The city center of Dundee teems with hotels, from budget to high-end options. During the summer when university students are away, you can also stay in empty student accommodations. Contact the university directly if this is something that interests you. For a quieter holiday with a focus on the outdoors, consider staying in nearby Angus. Here you'll discover picturesque small towns and villages complete with charming bed and breakfasts.
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