National Botanic Garden could become home to an observatory
STARGAZERS could soon be flocking to a dedicated observatory in Carmarthenshire.
Tentative talks are under way which could result in an observatory being built at the National Botanic Garden of Wales.
Swansea Marina observatory was formerly home to the largest telescope in Wales before the city's astronomical society moved out of the building in the face of rising rents.
Plans have now been submitted to Swansea Council to convert the observatory into a cafe bar and holiday home.
In the meantime the telescope formerly housed by the building has been removed by the grandson of its creator Dr Fred Jenkins.
Discussions are now under way to consider the possibility of housing it in a newly-built observatory at the National Botanic Garden of Wales at Llanarthne.
Dr Rosie Plummer, director of the garden, confirmed talks were at an early stage, and said the project could cost in the region of £310,000 and would have to be funded externally.
She added: "The National Botanic Garden has been approached about the possibility of the telescope.
"It is enthusiastically exploring how it could build an observatory.
"It is a very obvious and ideal educational resource.
"It would fit with the fact the Garden is a STEM (Science, technology, engineering and maths) hub.
"We are exploring the options with enthusiasm.
"What we are seeking is a feasibility study so we could at what a design might look like and where that might be put on the site. There are quite a lot of constraints as to where the telescope could go.
"It would have to be an iconic, superior design that does credit to the landscape and curtilage of the gardens and has appropriate facilities to support learners and users.
"We are extremely enthusiastic about the potential."
The National Botanic Garden of Wales currently receives around 150,000 visitors every year.
Swansea Astronomical Society is holding one of its regular star parties at the venue on Friday, February 22.
The group had occupied the Swansea Marina observatory, but the building has now been empty since 2010.
Uplands bar boss Noah Redfern has submitted a planning application to convert the venue, which was built in 1988, into a cafe bar, ice-cream parlour and holiday home.
The building is owned by Swansea Council, but will be sold if planning permission is granted.