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The Altazimuth Pavilion, Royal Observatory Greenwich

Restoration of Halley’s Comet weather vane and lanterns

The Altazimuth Pavilion, one of the Victorian additions to the Royal Observatory site, was designed by Admiralty draughtsman William Fitzjohn in 1896. Crisp collaborated closely on the design with the Astronomer General, Sir William Christie. The building was intended for Christie's Altazimuth telescope which measured the altitude (position on the horizon) and azimuth (position east along the horizon) of celestial objects. In 1901 the decorative gilded weathervane was added, based on the depiction of Halley's Comet in the Bayeux tapestry. Its addition to the Pavilion at this time may have been inspired by the appearance of two bright comets in the 1890s. During the Blitz in 1940, the dome of the Pavilion was completely destroyed with a direct hit. In 1963 the building was repaired, with a fibreglass dome. The four Victorian-style lanterns with gilded stars may have been added at this point. HOLT has given a grant for the weathervane to be removed, stripped, treated and gilded with gold leaf. The four iron lanterns need similar treatment.

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