View of the observatory.
|Location||Woodstock Road, Oxford|
|Owner||Green Templeton College|
|Design and construction|
|Architect||Henry Keene and James Wyatt|
Radcliffe Observatory was the astronomical observatory of the University of Oxford from 1773 until 1934, when the Radcliffe Trustees sold it and erected a new observatory in Pretoria, South Africa. It is a grade I listed building.
The observatory was founded and named after John Radcliffe by the Radcliffe Trustees. It was built on the suggestion of the astronomer Thomas Hornsby, who was occupying the Savilian Chair of Astronomy, following his observation of the notable transit of Venus across the sun's disc in 1769 from a room in the nearby Radcliffe Infirmary.
Until 1839, the Savilian Chair of Astronomy was responsible for the observatory, at this date the appointment of George Henry Sacheverell Johnson an astronomer with no observational experience caused the creation of the new role of Radcliffe Observer.
Because of the viewing conditions, weather, and urban development at Oxford, the observatory was moved to South Africa in 1939. Eventually that site, in Pretoria, also became untenable and the facility was combined with others into the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) in the 1970s.
The building is now used by Green Templeton College off the Woodstock Road and forms a centrepiece for the college. The original instruments are located in the Museum of the History of Science in central Oxford, with the exception of the Radcliffe 18/24-inch Twin Refractor telescope, which was transferred to the University of London Observatory.
The following have been Radcliffe Observers:
- 1839 Manuel John Johnson
- 1860 Robert Main
- 1879 Edward James Stone
- 1897 Arthur Alcock Rambaut
- 1924 Harold Knox-Shaw
- 1950 David Thackeray