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McConnell Rooftop Observatory
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McConnell Rooftop Observatory

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The telescopes of the McConnell Rooftop Observatory at the Clark Science Center are in use by students every clear night during the academic year and public stargazing sessions on a regular basis each semester. We have four courses dedicated to astronomical observing with telescopes: AST 103, AST 113, AST 337, AST 341.

Our two large computer-controlled telescopes, each in separate housing with permanent mounts, are a 16-inch Meade LX200 ACF Schmidt-Cassegrain and a 12-inch Meade LX200 Schmidt-Cassegrain. Our latest addition is a 10-inch Meade RCX 400, kindly donated by Aimee Girard '10. We also have eight portable 8-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes that can be set up on rooftop-observing platforms or taken to the MacLeish Field Station in the Berkshire Hills. Our instrumentation for data acquisition includes two 2K x 3K SBIG CCD cameras with standard UBVRI sets of astronomical filters for color imaging and 7 Canon DSLR cameras for astrophotography, funded in part by a gift from John Hayward in honor of Jo Ann Lord Hayward '51. See some images taken with our 16-inch telescope in our image gallery.

For solar viewing we have the Lisa Abrams '90 Coronado SolarMax 90 scope, equipped with a special red filter for viewing flares and erupting prominences through the light of hot hydrogen gas, along with a pair of Coronado Personal Solar Telescopes with a red hydrogen and a blue calcium filter.

We also have guaranteed observing time on the WIYN 0.9m telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona, used for student observing both in AST 341 and for independent research. Other FCAD telescopes include the Amherst College Wilder Observatory, with an 18-inch refractor; the UMass Orchard Hill Observatory 16-inch and the Williston Observatory 24-inch reflector at Mount Holyoke.