On 1st May 2007 the Spaceguard Centre received the following e-mail:
Dear Mr Tate,
The Institute of Astronomy at Cambridge has a Schmidt camera which can no longer be used efficiently here because of the high level of street lighting in this area. This telescope was built by Grubb-Parsons of Newcastle and installed here in 1953. The last time it was used by a member of staff was at the time of the 1986 appearance of Halley’s comet, when Noel Argue took a series of short exposures as part of an international programme to determine the comet’s orbit well enough for Giotto to make a close fly-by. Since then it has had rather little use;
Would you be willing to accept the telescope? It would need a building and dome.
Thus began Project Drax, with no plan, no funding, and little idea of the magnitude of the task ahead.
The illustrated story of the next decade is detailed on the Spaceguard UK Facebook page at: