observatory was built in October of 2011 as part of the extension to the Arts & Science building and was officially
opened in May of 2012. From its opening until summer 2016, the observatory had more than 4200 visitors!
Inside the 6-metre
aluminum dome of tne observatory are several telescopes with instruments to record and analyse the light received from distant
astronomical objects. Sliding shutter doors on the dome open to reveal a
in the dome roof to allow the main telescope to look at the sky, but
it from wind and stray light. A controlling computer program
automatically rotates the whole dome with the telescope to keep it
looking out of the slit.
The main telescope is a reflecting design called Ritchey-Chretien Cassegrain which uses two mirrors. It was designed and manufactured by DFM Engineering Ltd. of Colorado. Its main mirror is 60 cm
(24") in diameter, giving it almost 10,000 times the light-gathering
ability of the human eye! The faint light from distant objects can be
collected in this large "light-bucket", then focused through an eyepiece
for direct viewing or into instruments for analysis.
The telescope is equatorially mounted
with computer-controlled tracking motors to compensate for the motion
of the Earth, allowing it to track objects in its field of view as they appear to move across the sky.
smaller special purpose telescopes are mounted "piggy-back" on the main
telescope to take advantage of the main tracking drives. A refractor telescope
serves to look at a wider area of the sky than the main telescope -
although with less light-gathering ability from its 10 cm lens. The small Coronado solar telescope has a specially designed filter to
allow safe viewing of sunspots and
beautiful prominences along the Sun's limb during the daytime.
separate, heated Control Room allows researchers to point the telescope and
control its instruments remotely. The major astronomical instruments include a high-performance Apogee U6 fan-cooled CCD
imager which is used to take timed exposures of astronomical objects,
storing the light to build up a brighter image. A Shelyak LISA high luminosity
spectrograph is used to record light that has been spread out into its many wavelengths.
We've also brought a little "outer space" to your space! The upper hallway study area of the Arts & Science extention has floor decals placed to represent the
planets (plus Pluto) of our Solar System at their relative
distances from the Sun. Be sure to walk through this Scale Model Solar System. Can you estimate how far away the next nearest
star is at this scale?
The observatory is a natural tie-in to the B.Sc. degree program in physics at the Grenfell Campus. Students in the program have an
opportunity to go beyond a basic physics degree and focus on astronomy as part of their studies. Grenfell currently offers courses in stellar astronomy (Physics 2151), the solar system (Earth Science 2150), galactic astronomy (Physics 3160), and an observational astrophysics course (Physics 3180).
The observatory is located at latitude N 48 deg 56 min and longitude W 57 deg 56 min.