ASE logo The Astronomical Society of Edinburgh


No 51 - December 2006

Earlyburn sold

See also the cover photograph.

Readers will be aware that the Society had a lease to use the Earlyburn site for observing between 1999 and 2005. After an approach from the landlord - which wished to sell the site - the Society gave up the lease. The Society considered purchasing the buildings, but decided against this.

I was passing Earlyburn in June and found a for-sale sign. It was a weekend and a few people were walking around the site to have a look. Looking up the estate agent on the web revealed that the plot of just over one hectare was on offer as a building plot with planning permission to convert existing buildings to a single dwelling house. The asking price was for offers over £95,000. This would not have been affordable for the Society anyway, our hope would have been that the plot was in essence farm land and would have a much lower value.

The history of Earlyburn began in 1961 as an outstation of the Royal Observatory Edinburgh. It was used for the tracking of satellites - a new research topic at the time. The location, remote from interfering lights and with an unobstructed view of the horizon in all directions allowed the tracks of very faint satellites to be recorded photographically. In 1966 a 24/36-inch f/1 Hewitt Schmidt Camera was installed, which could measure satellites to one arc second in position and a millisecond in time. In all Earlyburn was used by ROE for somewhat more than 10 years. (Brück 1983.)

By the 1990s the site was owned by the Natural Environment Research Council. The main use appeared to be some magnetic instruments at the back of the site, probably run by the geophysicists of the University of Edinburgh. For the five or six years that the Society had use of the site we used it much for the same reason as Brück gives for its original choice, dark sky and unobstructed horizon.

My observing logs show 78 dates with observations made from Earlyburn, in particular before I had my own back garden to set up the telescope. These observations include about ten aurorae and an occultation of Saturn by the Moon. The five comets I saw and imaged from Earlyburn include C/2002 C1 153 P/Ikeya-Zhang and C/2004 Q2 Machholz.


Horst Meyerdierks


Cover page

Observing from Edinburgh 1978-1984

Solar global warming

Pluto and the planets

SAW 2006

Recent observations

From the president

Earlyburn sold

From the editor

Forthcoming events

About the ASE Journal

This journal as a single web page

This journal as PDF file (308 kByte)

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