by Rachael Edler
Professor of Physics Dr. Robert Hermann invited both students and community members to experience the Osten Observatory in an open house on March 14-17; although the first two nights of the open house were cancelled due to clouds, Jupiter and some of its bands, a nebula, and the moon were visible on March 16.
The Osten Observatory is the white dome east of Walz. It was built in 2002 by Pete Osten, a Concordia alumnus from the 1930s who was interested in astronomy. Concordia purchased the observatory from him in 2002.
The observatory holds a 16-inch computer-operated telescope. Hermann said the list of things that can be seen with the telescope is vast, and he has seen things both inside and outside the galaxy.
“Seeing things through the telescope with your own eyes allows you to appreciate astronomy in a deeper way,” Hermann said.
According to Hermann, the eye can only collect light for about a tenth of a second before sending that signal to the brain in the form of an image. With the naked eye, some distant galaxies several million light-years away are visible. Putting a camera on the telescope allows the eye to collect light for longer and, as a result, faint images become clear, making it easier to see farther into space.
“I’m really grateful we have this here as a resource for the community,” community member Jennifer Poley said. “It’s a great reminder of how creative God is, just the beauty of what He lets us enjoy and how He gives us the ability to build the technology to look at all of this.”
For Poley and her son Will, March 16 marked their second trip to the Osten Observatory’s open house. Astronomy is a large part of the Poley family. Poley grew up looking through telescopes in observatories in California and has passed the love of astronomy on to her children.
“I think it’s cool how what I’m looking at was formed in an instant—all of the galaxies and equations and stars,” Will said.