This volunteering opportunity could be said to be written in the stars. A role for the curious, York Museum Trust are looking for volunteers who are wanting to explore beyond our planet, and let others know about one of York’s astronomical hidden gems.
The York Observatory sits within the grounds of the Museum Gardens, often unnoticed by passers-by. One of the few museums in the UK to have a working observatory, YMT look to open its doors to the public and tell them the story of our city’s presence in the history of astronomy.
Built in 1831, the Victorian observatory hosts a telescope crafted by Thomas Cooke in 1850. York man Cooke then went on to make the then-largest telescope in the world, building on our knowledge of what is beyond the perimeters of the human eye. A haven in the history of how we explored the universe, volunteers will invite the public to hear the stories of our star gazing ancestors, the building and the collections that it houses. Going beyond storytelling, volunteers are also given the opportunity to demonstrate how the telescope works, and on the occasional fine sunny day, will get the chance of some of sun spotting. And for those interested in reading the stars, the coming early autumn nights give the opportunity to run evening sessions for visitors and specialist groups, and learn the artform of night time observation.
For those interested, volunteers help out on a rota basis, with the observatory currently open 11.30 – 2.30 every Thursday and Saturday, with extra days when possible. The evening observation sessions are optional. You’d only need to be available for one Saturday or weekday session every two to three weeks, though those eager to explore more regularly can do so. There’s no need to be a scientist or historian, but an interest in delving into the universe and York’s part in the history of science is needed. All volunteers will be provided with training and provided with a YMT t-shirt and sweatshirt.
If you’re interested in volunteering at the observatory, or would like to find out further information, simply click on the ‘Volunteer Today’ button at the right-hand-side of this article, and get ready to discover the unknown first-hand.