September 18, 2015 9:09 AM

Leighty-Tabor Science Center

Millikin University is hosting Public Observation Nights (PON) in the Requarth Observatory on Wednesdays from 8 – 10 p.m. throughout the fall 2015 semester.

Stargazing takes place on the roof of the Leighty-Tabor Science Center on Millikin's campus under the direction of student and faculty astronomers. PONs serve as a great way for Millikin physics and astronomy students to showcase some of their work and the facilities that they use and maintain for their research.

"Public Observation Nights offer members of the Millikin and Decatur communities the chance to view the night sky through some of the best astronomy equipment in the state, including the largest publicly available telescope in Illinois," said Dr. Casey Watson, resident astrophysicist and associate professor of physics at Millikin.

Dr. Watson added, "They're also wonderful for our guests who have a chance to see and learn about objects as they may never have otherwise."

The Requarth Observatory was built along with the rest of the Leighty-Tabor Science Center in 2000. All three 300 lb. support sections that hold the 20" (.5 meter) telescope were carried up six 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 Center also features an observation deck on the fifth floor that surrounds the base of the dome. This observation deck provides a platform to set up the smaller 8" telescopes that are commonly used in introductory astronomy courses.

For more information, contact Dr. Casey Watson at 217.424.6271 or by e-mail at

Click here to view a story from WAND-TV about Public Observation Nights at Millikin University.