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The Science Collection consists primarily of the instruments and apparatus from Coats Observatory, the oldest purpose-built public observatory in Scotland.

The observatory was run by Paisley Philosophical Institution and funded by members of the Coats family, initially Thomas and then his son James. The intention was to create one of the best equipped astronomical observatories in the country and no expense was spared in purchasing top of the range apparatus from some of the most renowned instrument makers of the late nineteenth century. Coats Observatory also functioned as a meteorological centre, taking daily weather readings from shortly after it opened in 1883 to the present, and the collection includes many of these historically important objects too.

Included in the collection are various telescopes; spectroscopes which determine the chemical composition of distant stellar objects by examining the light they emit; magnetometers to measure changes in the Earth’s magnetic field; seismometers for measuring earthquakes; assorted eyepieces for a variety of astronomical studies and several microscopes. These are complimented by an extensive library of astronomy and meteorology textbooks from the same era.

For more information on our Science collection, please contact our Science Curator John Pressly 

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