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Brooks Hall Astronomical Observatory holds open house


Brooks Astronomical Observatory had their final open house of the semester which featured their $100,000, nearly 20 year old telescope.

The telescope is a Cassegrain Telescope, the same kind as the famous Hubble Telescope. The Brooks Hall telescope is the third of its kind that has been placed in Brooks Hall since the installment of the hall in 1964.

The observatory is used for educating CMU students, operating as a working research observatory and hosting events such as their monthly open house.

“The open house lets people in the community, and that’s CMU people, but also people not connected with CMU in the Mt. Pleasant community to come up and see the observatory,” said Astronomy professor Glen Williams. “On a clear night they can look through the telescope and they get to see lots of interesting things such as planets that happen to be up, of course the moon as well, there are double start we can look at called binary stars, we can look at galaxies, and clouds of gas we call (nebulas).”

Despite cloudy conditions that kept visitors from being able to use the telescope, the final open house of the semester kept Williams busy as he had a constant stream of interested guests ready to take a tour of the observatory.

Fraiser freshman Glennon Fagan visited the observatory during a previous open house. He was so enamored, he wanted to come again.

“The first time they had (the open house) this year we got to see Saturn and it was amazing," Fagan said. We also saw a couple nebulas, it was awesome and totally worth it.”

Brennan Kerkstra, a senior at CMU and employed at the observatory, is also enrolled in the Astronomy 562 class, Observational Astronomy, which uses the telescope in a more class room setting.

“Recently we have been using it to look and take images of an asteroid and we have been tracking it to see how fast it’s moving through the sky and things like that,” Kerkstra said.“The class teaches you how to use a telescope in an observatory and in real life how you would record observations and it prepares you for what you are actually going to be doing.”

Open houses for the Brooks Astronomical Observatory are expected to resume in January once the spring semester begins.