Standing upon its purpose-built octagonal platform, extending from the sea wall at Swansea Bay, 'The Tower of the Ecliptic' is home to Wales' largest telescope.
Museums - Science, Scientific - Astronomy
The modern structure was built and partly financed by Swansea Council, in the early 1990s, for the purposes of providing a public observatory. The council received and matched half of the funding from a European Regional Development Grant. When building work was complete, in 1993, the observatory was officially loaned to the Swansea Astronomical Society.
The building consists of two tall towers, giving it the popular name, 'Marina Towers'. The optical tower, containing the telescope, has a white-washed square body built from hand-made Southern Irish bricks. This tower was crowned with its £18,000 fibreglass dome in 1991, but needed to be reset when it was discovered that the brick support was misaligned. A vital part of designer, Norman Walker's, construction relied upon precision installation of the dome, which, when floating upon a channel of water layered with oil, would enable the 5 metre shell to be turned with one finger. The viewing gallery and the 500mm Shafer-Maksutov reflecting telescope are found on upper levels of the tower.
The second tower houses the main entrance, astronomical exhibitions and a large spiral stairway, giving access to the four levels of the optical tower via open walkways.