Drury University to Open Observatory on Professor's Property

Oct 21, 2015

Credit drury.edu

A telescope that has been sitting in a closet at Drury University for nearly 20 years is about to get a new home. That home, and new observatory, is the backyard of associate professor Greg Ojakangas.

“There was no place to put this telescope. It’s a 14-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain, high quality telescope, but there was nothing available as far as a place to permanently house it,” said Ojkangas.

So, with the support of university officials, Ojakangas took it upon himself to set up an observatory on his own property. He was able to obtain materials for an observatory to hold the telescope, but the facility is still in need of reconstructing and revamping. 

Ojakangas hopes to use the observatory specifically for space debris analysis. The issue is a main focus of his, as Ojakangas serves as a consultant for NASA’s orbital debris program. He hopes that the observatory will help pique the interest of students who may be intrigued by astronomical sciences to help examine issues like space debris.

“It’s a big environmental problem in space right now that really needs to be addressed. So, if you people or people of any age are interested in coming here and working it would be a great thing for the nation and the world,” said Ojakangas.

About $25,000 is still needed to fund the observatory. This would go towards setting the up the facility and buying additional equipment, some of which would enable Ojakangas and his students to look at fast moving space debris.

Interested donors can call the Drury Office of Development at (417) 873-7217.

The observatory will have remote access so it can be operated by students both on site and at the Drury campus. Depending on funding,

Ojakangas anticipates the observatory to be up and running no later than the spring semester.