By Zachary Boak
Did you know that Clarkson University runs an observatory? The Reynolds Observatory located on the Hatch Road has been around since 1970. In recent years the observatory has been primarily used for outreach and education. In the warmer months on Fridays in favorable weather there are public nights where everyday people can visit and learn about the stars as well as get a close up view of the more prominent celestial bodies. During the school year the Clarkson Physics Club visits to view deep sky objects as well as take pictures of the heavens. Events include viewing stars and planets through the telescope as well as a showing of the night sky with laser pointers. Local schools such as Carthage Middle School and Potsdam High School have also visited on field trips to both the planetarium at SUNY Potsdam as well as to the Observatory itself.
Currently the Physics club has been busy upgrading the observatory to current standards so that it can be used in more in depth research although significant funds are required in order to replace 20 year old technology. Currently the main telescope is a 12 inch Schmidt-Cassegrain guided by a computer controlled mounting system. The dome is also linked to the computer and the whole system is controllable remotely. With additional funding upgrades could be performed that would increase the aperture of the telescope to 14 inches as well as a much more precise mount. Current renovations include the clearing of brush and tall trees to give a better field of view as well as a permanent internet connection. This will allow us to control the observatory from anywhere with an internet connection as well as being able to sell time usage to researchers around the world.
With the help of Professor Joshua Thomas and Emeritus Professor Jan Wojcik it is expected that funding will be secured in order to bring the observatory up to modern day standards to be used for proper research. For questions about how you can be involved with the observatory as well as any events contact the Clarkson Physics Club.