Saturday, May 26, 2018
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Explore the constellations at UT's observatory

The Blade features periodic columns from area college students as part of our Campus Corner feature. Daniel Roman is a senior at the University of Toledo.

Summer rolls in as the spring semester ends at the University Toledo.

When graduate and undergraduate students finished up their exams in eager anticipation of the three-month break, they high-tailed it off campus in a cartoonish Speedy Gonzales manner. You'd be mistaken, though, if you assumed the campus becomes a ghost town.

True, many of UT's buildings see little traffic in the summer, but the Ritter Planetarium and Brooks Observatory continually entertains and sparks curiosity in the next generation of scholars even through the summer heat.

The observatory built in 1964 houses a 1-meter Ritchey-Chretien reflecting telescope, the largest optical telescope in Ohio. Used primarily by department faculty, graduate, and undergraduate students for research, it is open to the public to view the wonders of the sky on the first Friday of every month if the weather cooperates. The planetarium is a 40-foot domed auditorium that can seat 92 star gazers and its projector is capable of showing how the sky, stars, and planets change through the course of a night, week, month, or year.

The Ritter Planetarium and Brooks Observatory offers a slew of events, activities, and tours throughout the summer. Current public programs include the Skywatchers of Ancient Mexico. This classic program delves into the fascinating accomplishments of many Mesoamerican cultures, including the Mayans and Aztecs, with an exploratory tour of the Teotihuacan, Chichen Itza and Monte Alban ruins.

The other public program is the family-favorite Bear Tales. This program takes visitors on a camping trip telling tall tales about the night sky, including Greek and Egyptian myths as introductions to the constellations of the spring sky. It also demonstrates the different views one gets with binoculars, telescopes, or the naked eye.

The planetarium and observatory also offers private and school programs as well as tours and activities that run through the summer for students ranging from preschool to high school and beyond. Some of the tours and activities featured include a scavenger hunt, a tour, and demonstration of the telescope; and private viewing parties can be scheduled in the Brooks Observatory.

Contact Daniel Roman at

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