Physics and Astronomy opens Observatory to view Jupiter and Saturn


Niha Das '26

Professor Francis Wilkin, the Astronomy Observatory Manager, and a student observing the Saturn.

Noah Scopteuolo-Rosen, Contributing Writer

On Friday, October 7, The Physics and Astronomy department had their monthly observatory open house where they let students, faculty, and people from the local community into the observatory and view different stars and planets. 

The Union College observatory is one of only twenty one observatories in New York State. The open house was led by astronomy professor Francis Wilkin and showed the guests various celestial objects, including Saturn and Jupiter. 

The open house started with a brief tour of the observatory, where the guests saw all of the equipment, as well as an explanation of the observatory viewing software. Professor Wilkin spoke about the types of research that students can do with the telescope such as determining asteroid light curves. 

After the tour, the open house began in earnest. The observation started with brighter objects such as planets and double stars which are easier for most observers to see due to their brightness, and transitioned to harder-to-see objects such as nebulas and fainter stars which tend to be further away. 

As observers increase the magnification of the telescope, the field of view becomes darker to reveal fainter objects. This open house took place on a First Quarter moon which will made all of the observable objects brighter in the sky. 

Union has plenty of different courses that use the telescope. The Physics and Astronomy Department offers lab astronomy courses that involve viewing the stars from various field sites.

The next open house will happen sometime in early November and has a tentative date of November 1.