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Observatory will give stargazers new opportunities

Dordt College has recently acquired a twelve-foot dome observatory, along with a pair of high quality telescopes for use in the physics and astronomy program. The observatory was purchased from a doctor and amateur astronomer in Sioux City, taken apart, and moved to Dordt’s campus. It will be reassembled on campus this spring.

One of the newly acquired telescopes is already set up for service. The astronomy club hosted its first student star-gazing event on Wednesday, December 13, to view the Geminids Meteor Shower.

Dr. Doug Allen, professor of physics and astronomy, said the new equipment is a wonderful addition to the department and will provide opportunities for deep-sky viewing, study, and photography.

The space observatory has a twelve-foot rotating dome and a cable system shutter that blocks ambient light and gives a better view of space.

A Meade twelve-inch LX200 telescope will be permanently mounted in the observatory, keeping it in constant alignment with the North Star. This telescope has more light gathering ability than the telescope the department was previously using and is equipped with a computerized “go-to” system that allows users to choose a star from the 64,000-object celestial software library. The robotic system then tracks the star with digital readouts that are available on demand.

The purchase also included an Obsession fifteen-inch Dobsonian Telescope, with double the light-gathering ability of the department’s previous best scope. This freestanding five and a half foot telescope is equipped with user-friendly computer indicators that help viewers zero in on the location they are viewing.

Four new eyepieces complete the recent acquisition, offering astronomy students new opportunities to view God’s awe-inspiring celestial handiwork.