March 28, 2016 at 11:00am

Student, faculty astronomers host Public Observation Nights at Requarth Observatory

Millikin University will be hosting Public Observation Nights (PON) at Requarth Observatory each Wednesday evening during the spring 2016 semester from 8 – 10 p.m. The first Public Observation Night is scheduled for Wednesday, March 30, at 8 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. 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 University 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. "They're also wonderful for our guests who have a chance to see and learn about objects as they may never have otherwise. We hope as many people as possible will take advantage of this opportunity."

Requarth Observatory

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 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.

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