The observatory at Connecticut College resides atop the F.W. Olin Science Center in New London, CT and houses a 20-inch telescope. It uses the Ritchey-Chretien Cassegrain optical design and was manufactured by Optomechanics Research, Inc. of Vail, Arizona.
Enjoyed by the College community and local and regional visitors, Olin Observatory stargazing events, both entertaining and educational, are hosted throughout the academic year, featuring meteor showers, aurora, eclipses, and general night sky observations. Campus astronomers are pleased to discuss anything from the formation of the universe and black holes to moon exploration and telescopes. Learn more about observatory events.
The main observatory telescope sits on a mount variously referred to as an offset asymmetric, bent asymmetric, or a half-fork equatorial mount. This is a variation of the single-pier asymmetric mount that has been used by contemporary telescope makers such as Boller and Chivens, and Astromechanics.
The primary mirror is a solid, full-thickness Pyrex blank with an f/ratio of 3.0. The secondary mirror combines with the primary mirror to give the telescope an f/ratio of 10. Both axes are driven by microstepping motors through sturdy worm gear assemblies, with step resolutions of 5-10 steps/arcsecond. These provide tracking rates as needed for celestial and solar-system objects, as well as guide, set, and slew rates, all adjustable at high resolution in software. The drive is controlled by professional level telescope control software, using a 486DX-66MHz compatible computer system specifically adapted for this purpose.
The Olin Observatory uses a digital CCD camera system manufactured by Photometrics in Tucson, Arizona. This system includes a 1024 x 1024 pixel, scientific grade CCD which is thermoelectrically cooled.
A venerable 1881 Alvan Clark refractor telescope dominates the College's older observatory, located on the roof of Frederic Bill Hall. Bill Hall also houses laboratories, seminar rooms and classrooms used by the department of psychology, and the College's accelerator lab and computing center.