Jun 222019

Chambers St, Edinburgh, EH1 1JF

The large black and yellow Schmidt camerascope on display at the National Museum of Scotland

Royal Observatory Edinburgh’s 16/24-inch (0.4/0.6 m) Schmidt camerascope on display at National Museum of Scotland (© National Museum of Scotland)

The Astronomy Technology collections of the National Museum of Scotland contain a variety of artefacts, from orreys (mechanical solar system simulators) to a refracting imaging telescope. One of the larger artefacts on display is the Submillimetre Common-User Bolometer Array, or SCUBA, an instrument to take images of radio-frequency light emitted from dust in nearby galaxies. This red cylindrical device was installed at the James Clark Maxwell Telescope (JCMT) on Mauna Kea in Hawaii between 1997-2005 and produced some of the most impactful astronomy results at the time, surpassed only by the Hubble Space Telescope. This including significantly imporving the understanding of how galaxies are evolving and how new starts are being formed. One of the key partners in the consortium developing SCUBA, and its successor SCUBA-2, was the UK Astronomy Technology Centre, which is based at the Royal Observatory Edinburgh on Blackford Hill.

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Image of SCUBA mounted at JCMT at Mauna Kea

SCUBA mounted at JCMT at Mauna Kea (© Royal Observatory Edinburgh)

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