Gifted to the people of Dundee in 1935, with a bequest from John Mills, a linen and twine manufacturer and a keen amateur scientist, Mills Observatory was designed by the City Architect Mr McLellan Brown in collaboration with Professor Ralph Sampson the Astronomer Royal for Scotland. Built of sandstone, it has a distinctive 7-metre dome. It is the only British observatory to have been built with the sole aim of encouraging public understanding of science.
The main telescope is a 400mm (16 inch) Dobsonian reflector. It provides spectacular views of the Moon and planets and breathtaking views of deep space objects. The main telescope used to be a 250mm (10 inch) refractor built by Thomas Cooke of York in 1871. Due to its age and size this telescope will only be used on special occasions.
When the Mills Observatory opened on 28 October 1935, it originally housed a 450mm (18 inch) reflecting telescope, constructed by the Newcastle-based company of Grubb Parsons. The remains of the original telescope can be seen in the upper display area of the Observatory.
The Observatory now also has a 12 inch Meade Schmidt Cassegrain reflector which is fully computerised and can find 30,000 objects in the sky and a solar telescope which allows viewers to observe the sun safely during the summer months. There is also a variety of smaller telescopes and binoculars that visitors can use from the Mills Observatory’s viewing balcony or the car park.