On Thursday April 4, Macalester's observatory was open to the public. Astronomy students were on hand to explain cool nebulae, star clusters, and planets.
"My favorite part, " says Elijah Bernstein-Cooper '13, "is showing people a new way to look at something that's been above their heads the entire time."
The Macalester College Observatory is a science-grade facility featuring a 16-inch reflecting telescope, custom-designed and built by DFM Engineering. This is not just a telescope for looking at pretty objects; this is a telescope that can be used for meaningful scientific research projects. In many respects it looks and acts just like the large (2 to 4-meter) telescopes at the national facilities (e.g., Kitt Peak National Observatory).
Students were able to see Jupiter and it's four moons. Rotating the telescope showed a cluster of stars. "You kind of feel like you are in a Star Wars movie," says Casey Dallavalle '15.
The observatory is in Olin-Rice 404.