Observing at KU

Observation at KU has recently undergone changes. While the Tombaugh Observatory has been retired, the Astronomy program now utilizes the Observation Deck at Memorial Stadium. Tthis is not the end of the observational astronomy at KU. In collaboration with San Diego State University, the KU astronomy program is working to convert the 1.0-m ULTRA telescope installed at Mt. Laguna Observatory outside San Diego into a conventional 1.25-m cassegrain telescope capable of being operated remotely from a control room in Malott Hall. If you are interested in helping to make this project a reality, please see The MLO 1.25M Telescope Project.

Tombaugh Observatory: End of an Era

During October of 2001, the era of Tombaugh Observatory on the KU campus came to an end. The history of astronomical observing on campus is long but uneven, as detailed in the article by Don Bord on the history of the observatory through the late 70's. Since the early 80's, observing conditions on the roof of Lindley have steadily deteriorated due to the combined effects of expanded lighting in the area along with the addition of air-conditioning units and chemical vents for geology. Though a new dome was purchased for the refurbished Alvan Clark 6-inch refractor, the dome for the 27-in telescope and the shed for the 14-in Daus-Preston telescope have deteriorated. Despite attempts to repair significant leaks in the roof of Lindley that shut down the observatory in the early 90's, major structural problems have recently reappeared and it was decided to again repair the entire roof. For this phase of repair, it was necessary to remove all buildings, sheds, and telescope mounts from the affected areas. Since this effectively meant that the observatory would need to be rebuilt under any option, the decision was made not to return to Lindley.

Memorial Stadium Observation Deck

An appropriate site was sought on campus that would adequately serve the needs of the undergraduate astronomy labs and the public open houses. After testing a variety of options, the Astronomy Program was generously offered use of the Observation Deck at Memorial Stadium by the Athletic Department. With the addition of two new GPS Celestron telescopes, the site now holds four computer-controlled telescopes with tripods and peripheral equipment in two small sheds on the Observation Deck.