Astronomy Observation Nights: Your Ticket to the Stars

physics students handling and setting up a telescope at sunset

Each month, the Department of Physics hosts an observation night atop Rhodes Tower, allowing guests to observe the night sky with the department’s 8-inch and 20-inch telescopes. Free and open to the public, observation nights feature a theme highlighting different aspects of astronomy. Mini-lectures on the theme of the evening—whether it’s the Moon, Jupiter, comets, galaxies, or exoplanets—add to the experience.

In February, guests were given the opportunity to learn about the constellation Orion. Dr. Elizabeth Young, assistant professor of physics, began the night by taking everyone into the recently renovated observatory to learn about the college’s new powerful 20-inch telescope and how it works. Then came a candy and hot chocolate break, followed by a talk from Dr. David Sick, associate professor of Greek and Roman studies, about the origins of Orion, the huntsman in Ancient Greek mythology. Guests then viewed the night sky from telescopes set up on the roof of the tower. At first it seemed that the night would be cloudy, but the clouds soon made themselves sparse, making for a clear viewing experience.

Turnout is always great for observation nights, and all are welcome. Keep an eye out for upcoming events; your favorite constellation may be next.

By Swaneet Mand ’18