The Requarth Obsevatory
The Requarth Observatory was built along with the rest of the Leighty Tabor Science Building in 2000. All three 300 lb. support sections that hold the 20" (.5 meter) telescope were carried up 6 flights of stairs by hand. It was only after the telescope was installed that the freight elevator became operational. Faculty and students are continually updating the observatory to meet their scientific needs and there are currently many plans to enhance the stargazing experience for faculty, students, and visitors. In addition to the main telescope, the Leighty Tabor Science Building also features an observation deck on the fifth floor that surrounds the base of the dome. This observation deck provides the perfect platform to set up the smaller 8" telescopes that are commonly used in introductory astronomy classes. Even with a "small" 8" it is still easy to observe the rings of Saturn.
Public Observation Nights
Come view the heavens through the largest telescope in the state! The Public Observation Nights (PONs) hosted in the Requarth Observatory have been one of Millikin's most popular and enduring outreach activities. Requarth Observatory Public Observation Night is held every Wednesday, 8-10 p.m.; when there are clear skies and until weather gets too cold. The Observatory is housed on the fifth and sixth floors of Leighty-Tabor Science Center just off Fairview Avenue in Decatur.
After significant work on revamping the telescopes in the summer of 2007, Professors Watson, Miller, and Werner along with students Bobby Arn, Andrew Schenk, and Shae Trumpy, began to host PONs in September, 2007. This group held PONs through 2008, and since then Dr. Watson has continued the tradition with the help of many other SPS students. Thanks to all of their efforts, PONs have now provided thousands of people on Millikin's campus and in the surrounding Decatur community with access to some of the best astronomical equipment in the state, including the largest publicly available telescope in Illinois. PONs have provided guests with views of distant galaxies, giant star clusters within the Milky Way, binary stars like Albireo, red super giants like Antares and Betelgeuse, blue super giants like Vega, not to mention outstanding close-ups of the solar system, including our Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and its four largest (Galilean) moons, Saturn's rings and two of its largest moons,Uranus, Neptune, and even the dwarf planet, Pluto.
For more information, contact Dr. Casey R. Watson at 217.424.6271.
In Dedication to William H. Requarth
The observatory was dedicated on April 11, 2002, in Honor of William H. "Bill" Requarth, M.D., '35. Bill Requarth, M.D., a member of the Millikin Class of 1935, made his career as a Decatur surgeon from 1950 through 1983 and a private commodities trader thereafter. A Millikin Trustee from 1960 through 1995, serving two terms as chair, he provided volunteer leadership for fund drives including the Campaign for Science in the late 1990s. He was named Alumnus of the Year in 1970 and received an honorary doctorate of humane letters in 1996.
Dr. Requarth served the James Millikin Estate as Trustee from 1974 through 1984 and as financial advisor from 1984 through 2002. The Requarth Observatory was funded by the James Millikin Estate in his honor.