Funding Bid – We Need Your Help!


Sandwick Junior High School has a 12” Dall Kirkham telescope built in Lerwick by amateur astronomer Billy Kay in the 1960’s.

Billy was a self-taught amateur astronomer. He was dissatisfied with the telescopes he was using and felt he could construct better.  Billy polished his own mirrors for the telescope and also built the polisher itself which he designed to polish on a random basis to ensure there was no repeat in the action … a daunting task. The telescopes built by Billy Kay reportedly took photographs of the moon as good as any professional observatory, prior to NASA’s moon mission, and they were taken to a new home at Calton Hill Observatory in Edinburgh in the late 1960s.

The telescopes were brought back to Shetland by Billy, along with BBC astronomy presenter Patrick Moore, in the late 1990s. One telescope was donated to Sandwick School. This telescope has been at the school for over 17 years but needs a permanent dedicated space so that it can be used. We have agreed that Tommy Williamson (a local builder) will lead on the construction of the observatory, and that parents, pupils and other community members will volunteer time and expertise to support the project.  This will be valuable experience for pupils who are interested in developing careers in construction and associated industries.

Financial support from Jewsons would allow us to buy construction materials and wire up the observatory, and would give the project a strong start which will help to engage community volunteers.  Our aim is to build an asset for the community which can be used by a range of groups, and build the capacity and skills of community members throughout the project.

Link to Jewsons Building Better Communities site:

The project has been placed in a category that can be awarded between £5,000 and £10,000.

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