Watcher is a robotic research telescope developed by University College Dublin in collaboration with the University of the Free State Bloemfontein, South Africa, Instituto de Astrofisica de Andalucia, Spain and the Astronomical Institute, Czech Republic. Watcher is the first Irish robotic telescope to be located at a high quality astronomical site and is designed primarily to study the prompt optical and afterglow emission from gamma-ray bursts, aswell as other astrophysical transients. Observations of GRBs are triggered through the Gamma-ray Coordinates Network. Upon receipt of a trigger, the telescope automaticallys slews to the target, as soon as it is visible. The fastest response time to date has been 22 seconds.



Watcher is located at Boyden Observatory, 24km from the city of Bloemfontein in South Africa. Here observers enjoy over 200 clear nights a year.

  • 24 km from city of Bloemfontein, Orange Free State, South Africa (29ºS, 26ºE)
  • Operated by the Physics Department, University of the Free State (UFS), Bloemfontein
  • Altitude 1387m, observations are carried out about 200 nights per year
  • Manned site, technical and workshop support from UFS Physics Dept. Resident astronomer on site