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UCLO History: Timeline

1827 Dionysius Lardner is appointed as UCL's first Professor of Natural Philosophy and Astronomy.
1925 The Wilson 24" reflector is offered to the University of London
1928 Observatory building commenced July.
L.N.G. Filon appointed Honorary Director (1928-1937);
C.C.L. Gregory appointed Wilson Observer (1928-1950)
1929 'University of London Observatory', ULO, opened by Sir Frank Dyson (Oct 8)
1930 H.R. Fry donates his 1862, 8" Cooke refractor to the Observatory (January), together with funds for a dome to house it (erected 1931).
1934 The Radcliffe twin 24"/18" telescope is offered to the Observatory, and accepted 1935
1937 Radcliffe building commenced.
1938 Building completed June, opened July 1 by Sir Harold Spencer Jones;
C.C.L. Gregory appointed first Director (1938-1950)
1939–1945 Radcliffe decommissioned during WWII
1940 Mr Fred Perren visits the Observatory, July 20
1943 Perren dies, leaving the bulk of his estate to the University of London for the furtherance of astronomy
1946 Radcliffe recommissioned.
The Joynson telescope (1863 6" Cooke refractor) is moved from the UCL courtyard to Mill Hill, after suffering wartime damage. It is used for daytime training & laboratory experiments.
1948 E.M. Peachey-Burbidge appointed Assistant Director (1948–1951)
1951 Management of ULO passes to UCL (Aug 1), although the name is unchanged, and administration of the Perren Fund remains with the University of London. The UCL Dept. of Astronomy is created, with C.W. Allen as the first Perren Professor and second Director of the Observatory (1951–1972).
1952 P.A. Sweet appointed Assistant Director (1952–1959)
1959 R.H. Garstang appointed Assistant Director (1959–1966)
1965 Observatory Annexe (Dawes Lane) acquired
1966 D. McNally appointed Assistant Director (1966–1986)
1972 Robert Wilson (Professor Sir Robert Wilson, CBE, FRS) appointed Perren Professor & third Director of ULO. Departments of Astronomy and of Physics merge. Astrophysics research activities start to migrate from ULO to Bloomsbury.
1974 Original Wilson telescope is decommissioned (now on loan to Merseyside Museums), and replaced by the Allen, a new 24" reflector by Ealing Beck.
1975 Allen Telescope formally opened May 22 by D.W.N. Stibbs
A spectrograph for the Allen is designed & built by M.M. Dworetsky.
1981 Fry Telescope decommissioned for repair & refurbishment, temporarily replaced by the Joynson.
1986 Robert Wilson becomes Head of Department of Physics & Astronomy (1986–1994), appoints Derek McNally to the ULO Directorship (1986–1997, separating the Directorship from the Perren Chair).
1991 New computerised control system installed for the Allen telescope; first use of a CCD camera at ULO, on the Allen spectrograph.
1994 David Williams appointed Perren Professor (1994–2002).
First CCD camera on the Radcliffe; its electronic control system is also commissioned (developed by Peter Thomas with support from Chris Clarke)
1996 M.M. Dworetsky appointed Acting Director, ULO (Oct 1)
1997 Mike Dworetsky appointed fifth Director, ULO (Oct 1; 1997–2008).
Fry telescope refurbishment completed.
1998–2000 Observatory Annexe sold as planetary-sciences research activities migrate to Bloomsbury, where John Guest moves to the Dept. of Geological Sciences (1999 Aug 1). Proceeds used in part to fund a new observatory building with three domes, in one of which the Fry is recommissioned (with small computer-controlled catadioptric telescopes in the remaining domes).
2004 Ofer Lahav assumes the Perren Chair (February).
2006 C14 telescope installed in the 'west dome'
2008 Ian Howarth appointed sixth Director (Oct 1). For the first time, all Physics students attend ULO.
2009 Bandwidth to Bloomsbury upgraded from 2 to 10Mb/s. Second C14 telescope obtained (for 'east dome')
2010 July 21, acquisition of the first astronomical images obtained by remote operations (student Jakub Bochinski, with supervisor Steve Fossey on site).
2012 Routine robotic observing comes on-line. Second-year astro students return to Mill Hill for practicals after a lengthy absence (term 2).
2013 Bandwidth upgrade to 1Gb/s. Affiliation to the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers (Jan 24). First fibre-fed astronomical spectrum taken (of Venus, with a Shelyak spectrograph and fibre coupling by Nic Clarke; Jul 11)
2015 Formal request to University of London to approve name change to UCL Observatory (reflecting actual practice for more than half a century). Approved by the Board of Trustees of the University of London on 2015 Oct 14.
2015 Giorgio Savini appointed seventh Director (Oct 1).
Compiled by Ian Howarth