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Science Collection

The Science Collection consists primarily of the instruments and apparatus from Coats Observatory, the oldest purpose-built public observatory in Scotland.

The observatory was run by Paisley Philosophical Institution and funded by members of the Coats family, initially Thomas and then his son James. The intention was to create one of the best-equipped astronomical observatories in the country and no expense was spared in purchasing top of the range apparatus from some of the most renowned instrument makers of the late nineteenth century. Coats Observatory also functioned as a meteorological centre, taking daily weather readings from shortly after it opened in 1883 to the present, and the collection includes many of these historically important objects too.

Artworks displayed

Spectroscope by Adam Hilger – analyse light from celestial objects to
determine chemical composition. Adam Hilger was one of the leading scientific apparatus makers of the late Victorian period.

Spectroscope, Adam Hilger

Assorted eyepieces for a variety of astronomical studies and several microscopes by R & J Beck. R & J Beck were one of the leading microscope manufactures of the late Victorian period and this
binocular microscope was one of the high-end pieces that they produced.

Binocular Microscope by R & J Beck

Magnetometers – measure changes in the Earth’s magnetic field. These objects from the Science Collection are indicative of the early scientific objectives of Coats Observatory in the use of highly specialised equipment to carry out a wide range of observations.

Unifilar Magnetometer, Elliot Brothers

Clocks and other timepieces by Ritchies of Edinburgh.

Chronometer, Richie and Son.

For more information on our Science collection, please contact our Science Curator John Pressly