The Cambridge years ... 1990–1998


This page is under development

The RGO building at Cambridge. Undated photo courtesy of Patrick Moore

After years of deteriorating conditions at Greenwich, the Observatory moved to Herstmonceux Castle in Sussex in 1948. There it was greatly expanded and renamed the Royal Greenwich Observatory, Herstmonceux. Following a major downsizing in the 1980s, the Science and Engineering Research Council (SERC) controversially moved it to a newly constructed building next to the Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge, where it was renamed the Royal Greenwich Observatory, Cambridge. The foundation stone of the new building was laid on 27 October 1988 and the building formerly opened on14 June 1990.

In 1998, the Observatory was closed down by the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC), the successor body to the SERC.

'Laying' the foundation stone for the new building on 27 October 1988. From left to right: Alec Boksenberg (Director), Patrick Moore, Robert Jackson (Junior Minister at the Department of Education and Science). The wall is believed to have been a temporary one erected especially for the occasion. In his autobiograph Patrick Moore wrote: I have a photograph showing me with Mr Jackson ...standing in front of the plaque. We are shaking hands, smiling pleasantly at each other and each thinking: 'Drop Dead!' Photo courtesy of Patrick Moore


Location map

Located off the Madingley Road in the grounds of the old Cambridge Observatory, there is no public access to the building.


Farewell RGO

Lowering the flag for the last time on Friday 30th October 1998. Photo courtesy of Dafydd Wyn Evans

RIP Royal Greenwich Observatory. 1998. Photo courtesy of Dafydd Wyn Evans

The foundation stone (11 August 2017)

Robin Catchpole outside the now former RGO building in August 2017. Note the foundation stone to the right of the entrance