December 5, 2017 at 3:30 pm

New Observatory Draws Visitors Skyward

Astronomy Instructor George Eberts with the Fecker telescope

Astronomy Instructor George Eberts at the Ohio University Observatory

When it comes to mapping the night sky for visitors to Ohio University’s new observatory at The Ridges, astronomer Dr. Doug Clowe and his colleagues have ample opportunities to point to planets and star constellations, as well as other celestial bodies. Since the opening of the Ohio University Observatory last May, numerous groups have attended stargazing events sponsored by OHIO’s Astrophysical Institute.

“The observatory opening ceremony drew a crowd of more than 200,” says Clowe. “Over the summer the observatory was open for public observing for nine nights, which allowed more than 650 visitors to view Jupiter and Saturn through the telescope. While most people stopping by were from Athens and the surrounding counties, we also had visitors from California, Great Britain, Germany, Japan and Malaysia.”

The opening event provided organizers a chance to extend their gratitude to numerous individuals who have hosted or assisted in department-sponsored public stargazing activities throughout Southeastern Ohio, as well as showcase the refurbishment of the historic Fecker telescope.

Ohio University acquired the Fecker telescope in 1950, and it was installed on the roof of the engineering building, which is now known as the Research and Technology Center, or RTEC. That telescope remained in operation until the early 21st century, and with the opening of the new observatory, returns to service to provide students and community members views of celestial wonders throughout the year.

‘Observatory Opening Ceremony’ Highlights [Video 3:45 min]

In a video about the opening ceremony, images by photographers Jim Korpi and Ben Siegel highlight the May 2017 ceremony and the refurbished Fecker telescope. The telescope was put to good use as the night sky darkened and the clouds parted on an otherwise rainy night:

‘Astronomy at Ohio University’ [Video 5:50 min]

The study of astronomy has deep roots at Ohio University. As the institution’s chief academic officer, Dr. Pamela Benoit shares milestones from the early decades to a remarkable connection between our observatories in Arizona and in Athens.

‘Ohio Observatories’ [Video 12:30 min]

The construction of night sky observing centers in Ohio began thousands of years ago. In this overview video, Astronomy Instructor Tom O’Grady touches briefly upon key historical figures and moments in time. What roles did U.S. President John Quincy Adams, George Willis Ritchey of Meigs County, Ohio, and Mathematics Professor Victor Goedicke play in the development of astronomical studies throughout Ohio?

Attend December Stargazing Events at the Observatory, Dec. 15 and 16

Public stargazing nights this month are scheduled for Dec. 15 and Dec. 16, from 8 to 10 p.m. Clouds or stormy weather cancels the evening activity. Visit the Ohio University Observatory website for updates (tweets) in the event of inclement weather or a last minute cancellation notice.

If You Go:

Friday, Dec. 15, and Saturday, Dec. 16

NOTE: Cloudy or stormy weather cancels stargazing. Consult the observatory’s Public Telescope Nights parking map  for free parking. A dark green permit or purple permit parking sign designates “Student Commuter and Faculty/Staff Parking.” A permit is required 7 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday – Friday. The lots are open to public all other times, unless reserved for a special event.

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