Housed on the fifth and sixth floors of the Leighty-Tabor Science Center on Millikin University's campus, the Requarth Observatory was built in 2000 and is the largest publicly available telescope in Illinois. All three 300 lb. support sections that hold the 20" (.5 meter) telescope were carried up six flights of stairs by hand.
In addition to the main telescope, the Leighty-Tabor Science Center 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.
Each semester, Millikin hosts Public Observation Nights (PONs) in the Requarth Observatory every Wednesday from 8-10 p.m. when there are clear skies and until weather gets too cold.
PONs have provided thousands of people on Millikin's campus and in the surrounding Decatur, Ill., community with access to some of the best astronomical equipment in the state. 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.
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. Requarth served as a Millikin Trustee from 1960 through 1995, serving two terms as chair. He was named Alumnus of the Year in 1970 and received an honorary doctorate of humane letters in 1996.
In the following video, take a 360 degree tour of Millikin's Requarth Observatory with Hunter Somers, a junior physics major from Heyworth, Ill., and president of the Society of Physics Students. Through this virtual experience you will see the inside of the largest public telescope in Illinois and get a sneak peak of the view during Public Observation Nights.