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Back campus once again a haven for stargazing

October 11, 2016

Earlham College’s observatory is back to bringing the astronomical wonders of the sky into focus.

Anna Schonwald ’16 and members of the College’s Observatory Club are organizing a night of stargazing at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22. The public is invited to attend.

“This event is kind of my baby. I’m really hoping to encourage families with children to come and learn about astronomy and look at the planets,” says Schonwald, who is double-majoring in Geology and Physics. “But the event is for anybody. Like any city, Richmond has a lot of light pollution and Earham’s back campus allows you to see more of the sky than you usually can.”

Earham’s observatory, which was built in 2002, has not been in use since 2012. The College’s first observatory, which is no longer in use and is located on front campus, was built in 1861. Schonwald, who is graduating this semester, is working with Minhea Balan ’19 and Minda Dettman ’18 to avoid future gaps in the use of the observatory.

“Part of the reason I came to Earlham was because of the observatory,” Schonwald says. “It has a powerful telescope.

“Space has always been a part of my life, but after coming here it became something I wanted to spend my life studying,” she says.

All stargazers should meet the College’s astronomy club at 7:30 p.m. in the parking lot behind Dennis Hall. Late arrivals can meet at the observatory, which is located off of Earlham Drive next to the parking lot serving the College’s baseball stadium.

In the event of rain or cloudy skies, the open observation night will move to the planetarium at the Joseph Moore Museum. The free event is expected to last about 90 minutes.

FACEBOOK: Join the observation club by searching for "Earlham Observatory."

Schonwald says her passion for space is due to her father, a physicist who studied at the University of New Hampshire and worked on a NASA project with a part of the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory called COMPTEL. Schonwald herself has completed a National Science Foundation internship at the National Radio Observatory in Socorro, New Mexico, and worked with radio astronomer Bryan Butler. That research revolved around constraining the top of the atmosphere circulation on Uranus.

 “My dad would take my sister and I out and we would talk about constellations and point out planets,” she says. “Now when I look up at the sky, I feel like I am part of something bigger.”

— EC —

Earlham College, a national liberal arts college located in Richmond, Indiana, is a "College That Changes Lives." We expect our students to be fully present: to think rigorously, value directness and genuineness, and actively seek insights from differing perspectives. The values we practice at Earlham are rooted in centuries of Quaker tradition, but they also constitute the ideal toolkit for contemporary success. Earlham is one of only 40 national liberal arts colleges ranked among U.S. News and World Reports' "Great Schools at a Great Price."

Brian Zimmerman is director of media relations at Earlham College. He can be reached at 765-983-1256 and zimmebr@earlham.edu.

 

 

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