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The independent news website of The Kent Stater & TV2


The independent news website of The Kent Stater & TV2


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Physics Department hopes to begin observatory repairs this summer

The Physics Department will start assessing what can be done to bring the observatory back to life this summer, after being closed for several years due to wiring and computer repairs needed. 

The observatory has been closed since 2020 because of it not being maintained during the pandemic, said Michael Strickland, Physics Department Chair and professor. 

The Humanist Society has been asking for donations to help fix repairs needed to get the observatory running again. The fundraiser was started during the pandemic. 

 “It’s a beautiful little building,” Emeritus Physics Professor Jon Secaur said. “It just needs some work done.”

 Secaur joined the university in 1980 and started helping with the observatory in the 2000s and up until his retirement in fall 2021. 

Strickland said the department plans to use the donations collected to start making repairs. This will include new wiring due to critter damage, new computers, etc. 

For many years, the physics department operated a 12-inch telescope at the highest point of elevation on campus, close to the Police Department. The facility was dismantled to make way for a new water tower. 

The observatory was a project started in the 1990s that was funded by NASA as a project in the College of Education. It was intended for public use. 

When using the observatory, Secaur said people choose what object they want to see, the dome slice on the roof opens and the motor moves the telescope there. 

“The motors never really worked because internet technology [was] not as good as it is now,” Secaur said. 

Secaur said eventually, the motor in the original mount malfunctioned and was not able to be repaired.

“About 10 years ago, Spyridon Margetis donated his scope, computer and mount to the observatory,” Secaur said. “He is another physics professor.” 

Inside the observatory, there is a 12-inch Cassegrain telescope that is connected to a computer that allows people to see any object in the sky, Secaur said 

The telescope is mounted on a concrete platform at the top of a short set of stairs. 

“The computer and telescope that were donated don’t agree with each other,” Secaur said “The telescope and computer need to be adjusted for the observatory to work correctly.”

The observatory is in a field off Summit Avenue. It can be accessed from the Portage Hike & Bike Trail that travels to Dix Stadium. 

Secaur hopes the adjustment and the building cleanup will make the building usable again. 

The computer and mount are very expensive, but with supervision, Secaur hopes it can be open for university and public use eventually. 

Strickland said the fundraiser has raised $6,000 so far. The original goal was $10,000. 

“This would allow us to most likely get it back in commission … more would allow us to do extra things like upgrading the telescope to a new model, etc.,” Strickland said. 

 Kaitlyn Sanders is a reporter. Contact her at [email protected]

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