Boyden Observatory - General Information
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Explore Boyden Observatory and the Boyden Science centre
Next Open Evening
Visiting the Boyden Science Centre
International tourists & visitors
Pictures of Boyden Observatory
Department of Physics website for Boyden

Entrance to Boyden is only by prior appointment. Minimum group tariffs apply. SA school or public groups can contact Dawie van Jaarsveldt at 051-401 2561 to make an appointment to visit the Science Centre.

The History

Boyden Observatory - a picturesque observatory just outside the city of Bloemfontein in South Africa, is certainly one of the most publicly accessible observatories of its kind. It has a long and auspicious history, dating back to 1889 when it was founded in Peru, South America, by Harvard University of the United States as the Harvard Southern Station. In 1927 the Observatory was moved to South Africa, to its current location known for its excellent weather conditions and atmospheric stability. The University of the Free State is in charge of the Observatory and it is managed by its Department of Physics.

Find out more: The History of Boyden

The 1.5-meter's control room, photo from historical archives

The Facilities

The 13 inch Alvin Clark refractor (pictured), more than 110 years old, is a powerful telescope and a joy to work with. It is accessible to visitors.
Boyden has the third largest optical operational telescope in Africa, the 1.5- meter UFS-Boyden reflector. A library containing books dating from centuries ago is also part of the historic heritage. Boyden is also proud to house the Metcalf 10 inch refractor - a telescope made by the Joel Metcalf, one the greatest amateur astronomers of the 19th century. The observatory has a solar telescope, used for groups visiting Boyden. An observation platform is ideal for looking at satellites, counting meteors, setting up mobile telescopes and doing astrophotography. A recently installed 16 inch Robotic telescope belonging to the University College Dublin performs professional research into gamma-ray bursts. Numerous other buildings and instruments can be found on the Boyden hill.

Find out more about the facilities: Explore Boyden

The 13" refractor, 4th largest at Boyden, currently used during educational program events

The Educational program

The Observatory maintains an educational program in the form of the Boyden Science Centre. It provides learners and the public alike with the opportunity to experience the wonders of astronomy and natural sciences through exciting and informative science communication events. Public open evenings are held and group visits can also be arranged, e.g. schools, organisations, clubs, societies, churches etc.

A world-class stellar auditorium has been completed at the Observatory in February 2004, with an acoustically designed sound environment and multi-media presentation facilities. A large screen indoors provides for visually stimulating and "edutaining" shows to visitors. The roof of the auditorium is used for open sky shows to the amazement of the audience, under realtime "planetarium" conditions! Incredible views of the surrounding Free State scenery can be enjoyed from its top, including beautiful sunsets.

To see the year's open evening schedule, refer to the Friends' calendar, or phone Dawie van Jaarsveldt to make arrangements for school/public group visits (051 401 2561).

The Auditorium at Boyden, seating 100 people. The roof can accommodate almost 200 people for open sky shows.

The Research program

Boyden takes part in international astrophysical research projects, utilizing the upgraded 1.5-meter UFS-Boyden reflector. The upgrade of the 1.5-m was a joint project by several institutions, including overseas universities and organisations. A sophisticated CCD camera is installed. Projects include the search for planets around other stars, gamma-ray bursts, monitoring of near-earth objects and other tasks. Prof. Pieter Meintjes is the resident astrophysicist in charge.

Dome of the 60" (1.5 m)

The Friends of Boyden

You can also become a supporter of Boyden, by joining the Friends of Boyden, a public interest group which fosters a wider appreciation of the astronomical activities of the Observatory and who promote public interest in its affairs. The Friends contributed efforts to ensure that the Observatory survived some turbulent years. Boyden is now a prime astronomical research and public educational centre in Southern Africa.

Navigate to the Friends' homepage

The Future

Boyden's future is bright, with various projects & developments being planned.

Further development of the educational program, concentrating around the Boyden Science Centre, will strengthen Boyden's reputation as a prime science communication centre in the central region of South Africa. Donors include the Shuttleworth Foundation, Anglo-Gold Ashanti and the Charl van der Merwe Trust. Please phone Prof. Matie Hoffman for more information: +27 51 401 2924 (w) or Dawie van Jaarsveldt at +27 51 401 2561.

The recently installed (April 2006) 16 inch robotic Watcher telescope of the University College Dublin in Ireland.

Boyden Observatory is managed by the Department of Physics of the
University of the Free State

Explore Boyden Observatory

Search the web or this domain only:

Web www.assabfn.co.za

Contact details

Contact Braam van Zyl at +27 051- 436 7555 (h) if you would like to become a member of the
Friends of Boyden, or email jalvzyl@mweb.co.za.

More information and costs
Download application form.

Website information
This website: www.assabfn.co.za/friendsofboyden
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