Rooftop Observatory

On the roof of the Thompson Physics Lab, we have a modern observatory that includes a number of telescopes used by students from across a range of classes.

The centerpiece of the rooftop observatory is a 24-inch telescope, housed within the main dome. This telescope is our workhorse, producing hundreds of images throughout the year.

Attached to the 24-inch telescope are a number of smaller telescopes. This includes a 6-inch refracting telescope, as well as three telescopes designed for looking at the Sun. The Solar spectrograph spreads out the light from the Sun into its full rainbow of colors (and was built by a Williams student!). The H-alpha telescope blocks out all of the light from the Sun except for light within a narrow range of wavelengths; this telescope draws out filaments and plagues of gas launching away from the stellar surface. The white light solar telescope only allows one out of every 100,000 photons to pass through, making for a safe view of the Sun. This telescope is especially good at finding sunspots, regions of the Sun that appear black because they are cooler than the rest of the Sun, although they would still be hot enough to melt most materials.