Scottish stargazers ‘heartbroken’ by fire at observatory

28 Jun 2021

Scottish Dark Sky Observatory. Image: @darkskyobs/Twitter

A fund has been set up to support the observatory in Galloway Forest Park after a devastating fire.

The Scottish Dark Sky Observatory, located in Dalmellington in the East Ayrshire region of Scotland, was burned completely to the ground last Wednesday, 23 June.

Although nobody was harmed, the source of the fire is still unknown, and the Scottish authorities are currently treating the blaze as suspicious. Investigations are ongoing.

In a statement posted 48 hours after the incident, trustees and staff at the observatory said they were “heartbroken” and that they had needed the previous two days to come to terms with the loss of the observatory.

They said: “The tragedy has devastated all those who have put so much time and effort into developing the observatory into a successful and popular educational and tourism asset for the local area and for Scotland.”

A PayPal link has been set up to help the observatory in the aftermath of the tragedy. The trustees thanked the public for its support, saying “We greatly appreciate the very many kind messages of sympathy and support we have received.”

The statement included an appeal for the public to contact Scottish authorities right away if anyone had information about the incident.

The trustees and staff thanked the Scottish fire and rescue service teams who attended the scene of the fire in the early hours of Wednesday morning last.

Initially opened in 2012, the observatory became one of Scotland’s most popular tourist attractions. In 2017, a digital planetarium was added as part of a series of expansions to the facilities onsite.

The Scottish Dark Sky Observatory gave stargazers of all ages the opportunity to learn about astronomy and space. Its location in Galloway Forest Park, and within the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Unesco biosphere, offered visitors the requisite low levels of light pollution and clear horizon views from which to observe the universe.

Blathnaid O’Dea is Careers reporter at Silicon Republic