The Blackford Trust - Investing in Talent in Scotland and China

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Please note The Blackford Trust is now closed - this page is retained for purely historic interest

University of Edinburgh

Our support

We funded one Undergraduate Access Bursary for astronomy in academic years 2008-2009 to 2011-2012, in honour of the Chairman's father, Dr Gordon Thompson (see this page).

Background to our partner (see also here)


Physics and astronomy at the University of Edinburgh is rated "excellent" for its high standard of teaching and 5 for its research ability. The University has one of the widest ranges of Physics programmes of any UK university, spanning the breadth of the subject, with honours degrees taking between three and five years. Physics at Edinburgh topped the subject league table in the 2008 Guardian University Guide, a ranking which reflects the quality of teaching in the School.

This teaching is led by The Institute for Astronomy, at the Royal Observatory Edinburgh, a research and teaching group within the School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Edinburgh. It is one of the UK's major centres of astronomical research, with special strengths in survey astronomy, cosmology, active galaxies and the formation of stars and planets.

The IfA runs introductory courses in astronomy for students of any discipline at first year level, Honours Degree courses in Astrophysics (both BSc and MPhys), and research degrees leading to the award of PhD in astronomy.

Outcomes and lessons

The student supported by our bursary graduated in 2012.

Blackford Trustees Graham Thompson and Gordon Brown visited the Royal Observatory Edinburgh on 23 October 2009 to see their facilities at first hand and hear of progress on various aspects of their work. Professor Andrew Lawrence, Regius Professor of Astronomy at the Institute of Astronomy and Dan Hillier, Visitor Centre Manager, hosted our visit.

We were shown an advanced spectroscopy instrument under construction by the UK Astronomy Technology Centre for the Very Large Telescope project in Chile, while at the other end of the historical scale, we were fascinated to see some of the 15,000 volumes of astronomical knowledge in the Crawford Collection.

We also heard more about the Dark Sky Scotland programme, part of the ROE's educational outreach activities. In November 2009, we decided to provide funding towards the winter 2009-2010 activities of Dark Sky Scotland, see this page.

The Observatory's own charity, the Royal Observatory Edinburgh Trust, has recently been revitalised. It aims to protect and showcase the heritage of the Observatory, and to develop projects connected with public interest in Astronomy. For more details, see its website.


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This page was last updated on 18 July 2016.




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