At its opening in 1929, the Observatory was principally a research
establishment, but after the second
world war practical astronomical teaching at UCL was moved from Gower Street
to Mill Hill.
Over the years better and larger research instruments at good-quality sites
were provided nationally or internationally,
and the emphasis at the Observatory gradually shifted from reasearch to teaching, with student
numbers increasing from eight in 1949 to about 100 today.
However, Observatory staff continue to pursue research
often involving undergraduate students, through project work.
Many of today's large research telescopes are under the direction of
scientists who made their first (and often second) steps in astronomy