April 11, 2022 at 1:45pm
Dane Lisser

Stargazing to take place on roof of Leighty-Tabor Science Center

Public Observation Nights at Millikin University's Requarth Observatory are returning each Wednesday for spring 2022 beginning on Wednesday, April 13, 2022, from 7:30 – 9:30 p.m. (weather permitting). Public Observation Nights are free and open to the public. 

Stargazing will take place on the roof of the Leighty-Tabor Science Center on Millikin's campus under the direction of student and faculty astronomers. Public Observation Nights 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, including the largest publicly available telescope in Illinois.

Requarth Observatory

Requarth Observatory on top of Leighty-Tabor Science Center

Public Observation Nights 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.

"Public Observation Nights are wonderful opportunities for our guests to see and learn about objects as they may never have otherwise. We hope as many people as possible will take advantage of these events," said Dr. Casey R. Watson, professor of physics and chair of the Physics & Astronomy Department at Millikin. 

Housed on the fifth floor of the Leighty-Tabor Science Center, 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 five flights of stairs by hand. Faculty and students are continually updating the observatory to meet their scientific needs and enhancing 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.

The Leighty-Tabor Science Center is located just off Fairview Avenue in Decatur. For more information, contact Dr. Casey R. Watson at 217.424.6271.