Stargazers seek new horizon for observatory

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Amateur astronomers whose observatory is made out of two shipping containers are having to move heaven and earth to find somewhere else to put it.

The York Astronomical Society, founded 45 years ago, has adapted the containers by putting in a sliding roof for an unobstructed view of the sky, and by painting the exterior green to blend in with the surroundings.

The shipping container observatory

The shipping container observatory

“It’s probably unique,” said the group’s secretary, Derek Farmer. “I don’t know of any other observatory built in this way.”

It has been sited for the last 12 years on land at Rufforth Airfield, a former RAF base west of the city. But the owners want the space back – prompting a search for a new location.

“It must be within 10 miles of the city centre, but away from artificial lights and with clear views, ideally in all directions. We hope the people of York can suggest somewhere,” Mr Farmer said.

Electricity, toilets and parking for around 10 cars are also desirable, with offers invited on the society’s Facebook page.