Observatory undergoing renovations

July 2, 2015 | Events, News, UToday, Natural Sciences and Mathematics
By Aimee Portala

The Brooks Observatory at The University of Toledo is receiving a new telescope, replacing one that is more than 100 years old.

A crane removed the dome of the Brooks Observatory last week and workers helped guide the structure to the ground.

A crane removed the dome of the Brooks Observatory last week and workers helped guide the structure to the ground.

The Brooks Observatory hosts an array of small telescopes, including the six-inch Brashear refracting telescope that has been on UT’s campus since 1931. The observatory, established in 1987, is used primarily for public viewing and undergraduate instruction.

A Celestron 14-inch high-definition telescope will replace the Brashear telescope, according to Alexander Mak, associate director of the UT Ritter Planetarium.

“The new telescope can gather more than five times as much light as the old telescope and will let us view fainter and more exotic objects than ever before,” Mak said. “The new mount and pedestal will offer a stable platform for the telescope and allow us to quickly move the telescope from one target to another. This will let us showcase more objects for our students and guests.”

In order to accommodate the sightlines of the new telescope, the observatory located on top of McMaster Hall on Main Campus will be significantly modified. The Brooks Observatory will be under construction for approximately four months.

“The current telescope in the dome is more than 100 years old and was originally housed on top of University Hall,” Mak said. “It is a historically significant telescope, having been manufactured by a noted craftsman.”

Dr. John Alfred Brashear, a late American astronomer and instrument builder, dedicated his time to manufacturing astronomical and scientific instruments.

The Brashear telescope will be placed in storage during the renovation and eventually will be on display, Mak said.

The project is funded through support from the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and an endowment established by the late Helen and Elgin Brooks.

The updated facility will be a state-of-the-art instructional observatory that will continue the mission of undergraduate education and public outreach. New undergraduate laboratory exercises will be developed, and more public observing opportunities will be scheduled once work is completed.

During the renovations, the Ritter Observatory, adjacent to the Brooks Observatory, will be open to the public for viewing on the first Friday of each month immediately following the regularly scheduled 8:30 p.m. planetarium program.

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