A PERSONAL HISTORY OF
THE ROYAL GREENWICH OBSERVATORY
AT HERSTMONCEUX CASTLE, 1948-1990

By George A. Wilkins

CHAPTER 6   END OF AN ERA—ALEC BOKSENBERG : 1981-1990

This chapter begins with the appointment of Alec Boksenberg as the Director and the changes in divisional structure and in reports and public relations that he introduced. A second round of reviews by SRC led eventually to the decision to move the RGO, but not the telescopes, to Cambridge. The preparatory work for the telescopes on La Palma was well advanced and the Royal Inauguration by King Juan Carlos of Spain took place in June 1985. This chapter is, however, primarily concerned with the activities at Herstmonceux. There were new developments, such as the use of satellite laser ranging, instead of stellar observations to determine the variations in the rotation of the Earth. The RGO retained the responsibility for the care of its archives, which cover 300 years, and so a conservation laboratory and a cataloguing project were started. The facilities in the Castle were improved to expand its use as a conference centre.

The final section is concerned with the immediate effects of the decision to move the RGO to Cambridge. Many secondary decisions had to be made about the continuation or closure of some of the activities. The Castle had to be evacuated before the move to Cambridge started. Many staff were faced with the choice of moving with or without their homes and family to Cambridge or whether to give up their jobs completely.

6.1 A change in administrative style and policy
6.1.1   Changes in the senior administrative staff
6.1.2Other senior staff and the divisional structure
6.1.3Publicity and reports
6.1.4The "brown-envelope exercise"
6.2 A second round of reviews
6.2.1The Rayner Review 1983
6.2.2The Willmore Panel 1983/4
6.2.3The SERC Secretary's Panel 1985
6.2.4The "Hands-off" and "Save RGO" Campaigns
6.3 Departmental activities 1981 to 1990
6.3.1La Palma and related activities: Organisation and staffing for La Palma; The telescopes and instruments on La Palma; Engineering and instrument development
6.3.2Astrophysics and astrometry: Astrophysical research; Astrometry; Developments in computing
6.3.3H. M. Nautical Almanac Office: NAO publications and data services; Dynamical astronomy (except SLR)
6.3.4The Time Department and space geodesy: The Greenwich Time Service; Satellite laser ranging; Other satellite tracking activities; Rotation of the Earth - Project MERIT and the IERS; Other national activities
6.3.5The libraries and archives: Changes in the library services; The conservation laboratory; The archives and the Laurie Project; The use of the archives
6.3.6Other international activities
6.3.7Administration
6.4 General activities in 1981 to 1990
6.4.1Scientific administration and public relations: The Castle as a visitor and conference centre; National Astronomy Week & Comet Halley
6.4.2Various staff matters
6.4.3Other events and activities
6.5 The relocation to Cambridge
6.5.1Administration
6.5.2Castle
6.5.3Library and archives
6.5.4EQ Group
6.5.5Astrodynamics: H. M. Nautical Almanac Office; Satellite tracking
6.5.6Other instruments and equipment
6.5.7University of Sussex
6.5.8Effects on the staff
6.5.9New building at Cambridge
6.5.10Changes and events on my retirement

Download: CHAPTER 6 pages 178 -217;  302 Kbytes