Observatories: Local Facilities

Angell Hall Facilities

Angell Hall Observatory. The observatory is located on the "6th" floor of Angell Hall. A 0.4-m (16 inch) telescope is housed in the main dome. Out on the roof-top observing deck are several piers for mounting up to 6 smaller, 8-inch schmidt-cassegrain telescopes. Additionally, there is a small radio telescope on the roof, which is accessed from a computer in one of the computer labs. The observatory is used for the undergraduate classes, training grad students, in-reach and outreach events and for public open houses.

[History of the Angell Hall Observatory]

The Angell Hall Planetarium. The planetarium provides an excellent environment for learning about the night sky. Seating 25, it has a Zeiss ZKP 3/B projector in a 24-ft Astro-Tec dome. With more than 7000 stars, it provides a fairly accurate representation of the night sky from anywhere on Earth. Additional projectors can show important lines to aid students in understanding the motions of the planets or astronomical coordinate systems. Most introductory classes spend several hours in the planetarium, and it acts as the classroom from ASTRO 127. Additionally, it is used for out-reach and in-reach programs and for public open houses. It is located in Room 3118 of Angell Hall.

Free public shows are given during the Student Astronomical Society's Angell Hall Observatory open house series (usually on selected Friday evenings). Open Houses at the Angell Hall Student Observatory and Planetarium are run by the Student Astronomical Society. Their schedule is available at https://sites.google.com/a/umich.edu/sas/ 

The Angell Hall Small Radio Telescope (SRT). The Angell Hall Small Radio Telescope (SRT) was commissioned in the winter of 2001. It is capable of continuum and spectral line observations in the L-band (1.42 GHz). The SRT is a standard seven-foot (2.1 meter) diameter satellite television dish mounted on top of a fully motorized Az-El mount. This unique mounting arrangement allows the observer to perform total power measurements and contour mapping. Software has been provided for controlling the antenna and selection of sources. Data reduction can be performed using existing radio astronomy software packages or left as an exercise for the student.

Peach Mountain Observatory

 Peach Mountain is part of the Stinchfield woods outside the village of Dexter. The area around it was primarily agricultural, so light pollution levels are lower there than on campus or other area observatories. The department uses the site for some of its smaller classes so students can actually view things that aren't visible from the city like the Milky Way and Andromeda galaxy.

The Peach Mountain Radio Telescope. The primary instrument at the Observatory is a 26-meter (85-foot) diameter parabolic reflector with a 36-foot focal length. This instrument was constructed in 1958 at Stinchfield Woods as a research instrument, under contract from the Office of Naval Research. At the time of its construction, the Michigan dish was one of the largest radio telescopes in the world. Subsequent to 1968 the research and operation of the Observatory have been supported jointly by a series of grants from the National Science Foundation and by funds from the University of Michigan. It has been in near continuous operation since a computer control system was installed in 1977. As a result, we have one of the largest continuous data sets available. 

24" McMath-Hulbert optical telescope. The University Lowbrow Astronomers run the 24" McMath-Hulbert optical telescope located at Peach Mountain (part of Stinchfield Woods) in Dexter. Their open house schedule is at http://www.umich.edu/~lowbrows/calendar/.

Planetarium (Museum of Natual History)

The Museum of Natural History, located at 1109 Geddes Avenue, has a planetarium that offers weekend shows. The Planetarium has served as an astronomy resource for the community since 1958. The Planetarium seats 36 people on concentric benches. The dome is one of the few remaining hand-sewn, painted canvas domes in the United States.

Detroit Observatory

The historic University of Michigan Detroit Observatory (circa 1854), located on the Ann Arbor Campus, is open at various times as a museum, hosts a monthly lecture series, and also serves as a scholarly center for the study of 19th century science, technology, and culture. This structure, located at 1398 E. Ann Street, is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

In 2005, the Detroit Observatory became a division of the Bentley Historical Library. The Detroit Observatory, named in honor of major donors from Detroit, was the centerpiece of President Henry Philip Tappan's efforts to transform the University of Michigan into one of the first research universities in the United States.

Today, the building stands essentially as it was in 1854. The original astronomical instruments remain intact and operational, including the 6-inch Pistor & Martins meridian circle and the 12 5/8-inch Henry Fitz, Jr. refracting telescopes, which in their day were among the largest in the world. The dome is turned manually by pulling a continuous rope.

Completely restored in 1998, the Observatory is a cultural treasure waiting to be explored. The Observatory is open twice a month for tours.

Major Observatories

Curtis-Schmidt telescope. The Curtis-Schmidt telescope is a 0.61/0.91 meter diameter Schmidt telescope located at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory, about 500 km north of Santiago, Chile. This telescope was originally installed at the University of Michigan's Portage Lake Observatory in 1950, and moved to the much clearer skies of north central Chile in 1966.

MDM observatory. The MDM observatory is located on the southwest ridge of Kitt Peak, home of the  Kitt Peak National Observatory, some 50 miles west of Tucson, Arizona. It has two telescopes: the 2.4-m Hiltner telescope and the 1.3-m McGraw-Hill telescope. The Observatory is owned and operated by a consortium of five universities: the University of Michigan,  Dartmouth College,  the Ohio State University, Columbia University, and Ohio University.

Magellan Project. The Magellan Project is a collaboration between the Observatories of the Carnegie Institution of Washington (OCIW), University of Arizona, Harvard University, University of Michigan, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to construct two 6.5 Meter optical telescopes in the southern hemisphere. The telescopes are located at Las Campanas Observatory, at an altitude of 8000 feet in the Chilean Andes, and operated by OCIW.


History of the University of Michigan Observatories

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