Firstly I booked an emailed about seating & standing to which I got no reply as I'm disabled, however, having disabled pricing I expected it to be accessible. If you have mobility problems you will struggle, the parking is quite a distance from the observatory & the parking near it had been filled by the volunteers. There are also steep curving paths & steps to negotiate in red light, so may need assistance & can stand or sit for 30mins +.
We had had to have picked one of the worst days so far with snow & driving winds, so of course knew we wouldn't be able to see from the telescopes. With that said we did expect to see & have explained constellations, the night sky, how we could set up our own telescopes etc. What we got immediately was Gary, whom immensely intelligent in HIS field made you feel inferior for not knowing what he does. He even said after a few people left at an interval that he could feel the room was going flat because they were not up to the more scientific areas he was about to discuss. Has he taken into consideration that he may project this complex & not made to feel welcome or ask questions for the fear of being made to look unintelligent? I'd like to see him do brain surgery or joinery! I was not the only person who said this as others were saying & probably many more thinking. I understood fully what he was telling us, I'd come though not to see what he has through a telescope that cost £25k but what was possible through a £400. Yes we can read it on the net, everything he said I could have done, however, it would have been nice to see it practically.
Of course I learnt new things about the bigger picture of astronomy & our earth, but nothing about setting up a telescope what to look for & when. Could I have asked? Most certainly, the point is we were not made comfortable enough to ask anything. I'd love to go again, maybe when Gary is back in Chile or wherever or maybe I should just book a children's class!!
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
November 28, 2013
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You were emailed on 12th November to provide information about the seating and standing: you were assured that you would not need to stand for long periods. People are always free to sit down during an event at any time - you didn't tell us on the night and so we didn't have any idea you were in pain. We are so sorry that you suffered in silence. We have plenty of seating in the warm room and you were also assured by email that we would be happy to make the space for your own chair at your request. Perhaps our email landed in your spam box?
The Observatory is 50m from the car park, and anyone who needs to park immediately next to the car park for accessibility reasons is welcome to. Perhaps people might be too shy to ask and so I am going to add a note on our e-tickets to make it clear that this is possible. I must state that the slopes are not steep: they were designed to be wheelchair accessible by our architects. We always wanted the Observatory to be accessible to all!
We have taken on board your suggestions about the pitch of the event. I always ask people how they are feeling - when I mentioned the room had gone flat, it was because I hope to help people to say what they would like, in case they have glazed over! As you say, I would have loved it if you had said you'd like to hear more about the constellations, or about how to set up telescopes. It is really hard for me to know exactly what you want unless you tell me. I will think again how to communicate this more strongly - that the Public Observing nights are for the guests.
Astronomy in fact wasn't always MY field! I was a bricklayer until 10 years ago and so I have always wanted people to enjoy and learn and feel as if they are part of our amazing Universe - I guess on this occasion it didn't work for you. I hope you will come back another time, let us know exactly what you want - and bring your telescope with you! We'd love to help you out with it.
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.