Established 1885

The Washburn Review

Established 1885

The Washburn Review

Established 1885

The Washburn Review

The Washburn Crane Observatory: A place to view the night sky through a new lens

Alessandro Di Gregorio, observatory volunteer and sophomore in physics, lines up the dob on the deck. He lined the dob up with Saturn. (Cheyenne Hittle)

Space is a unique term that is used in a multitude of ways. Whether that is the space on your keyboard, between two people or even the space we see outside of this world we live in.

Outer space contains astronomically large objects that look like mere specs to the human eye. It isn’t until one views these objects through a telescope that they understand what they are really looking at.

The way that Washburn helps students see beyond the Earth’s atmospheric layers into what lies beyond is by utilizing Washburn’s Crane Observatory. The observatory is located on the fourth floor of Stoffer Science Hall.

A couple of the opportunities offered by Crane Observatory are a deeper look at the stars in the night sky or an opportunity for some volunteer hours along with knowledge on how to operate different telescopes.

The observatory is open for viewing sessions every Thursday evening. Check for times and cancellations due to weather here.

A special event the observatory is hosting is coming up as well. On Oct. 14, 2023 from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. there will be an observing party to watch the solar eclipse. There will be solar eclipse glasses available for a limited number of people.

Aside from the opportunities for the visitors there is also an opportunity for students to volunteer.

A visitor to the observes session takes a look through the telescope. The telescope was lined up with Saturn.
(Cheyenne Hittle)

One of the volunteers from the event is Ethan Conners, a senior chemistry major. Conners learned about the volunteer opportunity from Karen Camarda, chair of the department of physics and astronomy.

“Seeing more stuff […] like notable stuff like Saturn is pretty cool, we saw the moon last semester,” Conner said.

The observatory doesn’t only focus on looking at stars, it also focuses on things such as planets, nebulas, galaxies and a variety of other things found outside of the world.

Learning more about the things seen in the night sky is one benefit that the Crane Observatory has brought to both students and guests. However, students who choose to volunteer have additional benefits.

“How to use a telescope for sure […] how to lock it in place, ” Conner said.

Alessandro Di Gregorio, crane observatory volunteer and sophomore physics major, shared what he has learned while volunteering.

“Coming here really helped me out learning how to look at stars better and how to find them better,” Gregorio said.

Volunteers are taught how to operate a telescope and “track.” Due to the Earth’s rotation the stars appear to move throughout the night. This is why volunteers are needed, to ensure the object is still in the line of sight of the telescope.

Posing with the Warner & Swasey telescope. Brenda Culbertson, NASA Ambassador, and a guest posed next to the telescope before the viewing session began. (Cheyenne Hittle)

The observatory has three telescopes in total for visitors to view the stars through. Two are smaller telescopes called dobs. The main show at the observatory is the Warner & Swasey Telescope.

“There was a point in Washburn history where things weren’t going that well in terms of money. They found a doner that gave Washburn $6000 […] and they managed to get the telescope here […] it was moved around America before because after the Universal Exposition in Paris this thing went back to America even though it was built in Paris […] it is a very nice piece of history,” Gregorio said.

In 1966, a tornado swept across campus and destroyed the observatory, but the telescope did not fall. Many hours went into restoring the telescope and observatory to bring it to its current state.

To learn more about the history of this telescope and some of the challenges it has endured and see some pictures click here.

To this day the telescope is a historical memento that represents Washburn and some of the aspects that sets this campus apart from others.

Edited by Larissa Morgan and Aja Carter

 

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About the Contributor
Cheyenne Hittle, Business Manager
Hey! My name is Cheyenne. I am a freshman at Washburn majoring in Accounting. I am the Business Manager of Student Media. As the Business Manager I handle all the hiring of our content creators and teaching them how to use all of our softwares. If anyone ever has questions I am a great contact. Some time after graduation I plan to start a ranch and help my community by volunteering and donating whenever I can. I enjoy running, arts, photography, animals, and getting my hands dirty in the garden.
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