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Astronomy Club to explore solar system in observatories

Staff November 2, 2013 News No Comments

By Sarah Thomas

Transcript Correspondent

While rain prevented any stargazing at the first meeting of the Ohio Wesleyan Astronomy Club, the group explored the Student Observatory and made plans for later.

The club met late at night on Oct. 23 at the Student Observatory, which is located between the House of Peace and Justice and Stuyvesant Hall. However, due to the rainy weather, the group was not able to look through the telescope located on the top floor.

Instead, they planned a trip down to Perkins Observatory, off of state Route 23 on Oct. 30. They plan to be able to see Venus and Jupiter, as well as the moon; but whether they will be visible depends on the clarity of the sky.

Robert Harmon, professor of physics and astronomy, said the group plans on traveling to Perkins Observatory every two weeks throughout the semester. They plan to meet at the Student Observatory every other week.

Harmon is the chair of OWU’s department of physics and astronomy and the faculty advisor for the club. He has been involved with the group since 1999.

Sophomore Natalie Wood said there is no need for prior knowledge of constellations or planets in order to enjoy the club.

“They explain everything in layman’s terms and are very patient,” she said.

Even though no stargazing was possible, Harmon did take the group upstairs to view the telescope. He gave a brief history lesson about the building and the telescope.

The Student Observatory was built in 1896. The telescope was originally powered by falling weights, which extended down into the ground below the building so that the telescope would always remain stable. In 1970, the telescope became mechanical.

The telescope is nine and a half inches, which is actually the diameter of the lens. The lens is refractive, which means it uses glass lenses. The telescope at Perkins Observatory is reflective and uses mirrors.

Professors used to hold classes in the Student Observatory, but no classes are currently conducted there. The last time Harmon taught a class in the building was in 2000.

“Perkins is a fun vacation spot, but I could live here,” said sophomore Zachary Claytor, club vice president.

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