Seizing the Night

By Emily Cox

This summer students may be able to do more than stand in the grass and look to the sky when they want to stargaze.

The MacAdam Student Observatory may have hours open to the public this summer, said director Timothy Knauer. The summer hours will be posted on the observatory’s Web site (

Located on top of Parking Structure #2 on Rose Street near the William T. Young Library, the MacAdam Student Observatory is now open from 9 to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday for astronomy students earning extra credit for class.

According to Knauer, the first priority was to make the observatory accessible to the students who want to use it. Its location along the Cats Path and near the South Campus and Central Campus dorms is mainly for accessibility and for student safety, he said.

The observatory opened in January, and uses a computer. Astronomy students can now look through the $32,000 telescope powered by an intricate computer system, and if they need to, capture images with cameras and computer software.

UK has had two other observatories, but both were torn down to make room for McVey Hall and the Kirwan-Blanding Towers.

The new location guarantees the observatory will not be displaced by campus growth, Knauer said. The two-part structure is completely moveable by helicopter if the location should ever change, which physics and astronomy graduate assistant Kristen Thomas said makes it a “safe investment.”

Thomas and fellow graduate assistants operate the observatory for students. Visiting the observatory gives “a first hand view so students can actually see what they learn in class, textbooks and lectures,” Thomas said.

English sophomore Nicole Key spent Wednesday night observing Saturn, the Orion Nebula and the moon from the observatory for her astronomy class.

“It’s almost so clear it looks fake,” Key said after viewing Saturn through a professional telescope for the first time.