Tech seminar highlights observatory

November 14, 2016

Amber Harrington

Staff Reporter | anh038@latech.edu




This week, students learned about a not-so well known site owned by Louisiana Tech.


On Nov. 3, John Shaw gave a seminar on the history and importance of Tech’s astronomical observatory.


“At Tech, we’re very fortunate,” said Shaw, a physics lecturer at Tech. “Most universities only have telescopes for their physics programs, so they’re constantly having to disassemble and reassemble their equipment. One of the nice things about our observatory though, is when everything is working correctly, you can just open up the door and go.”


Shaw said the past six months have been abnormally slow for the observatory, which in previous years had been used monthly, but he would like to reintegrate it back into his teachings.


“I think it’s important for my students to see things with their own eyes,” he said. “It’s one thing to talk about, but it’s another thing to see it.”


According to Tech’s website, the observatory site sits directly in between Grambling and Simsboro at Camp Ruston, an old WWII prisoner-of-war camp. The property was cleared of trees in the 1980s and is now part of the Louisiana Tech Livestock Unit of Tech Farms.


Despite the close proximity to Grambling, the location has provided a clear sky for deep sky photography.


Noah Michaels, a freshman electrical engineering major, said he believes Tech should be more proactive in their efforts to raise awareness about the observatory.


“The observatory is a very interesting and useful tool for students, but, I hadn’t known we had one prior to Dr. Shaw’s lecture,” Michaels said. “Even one of the faculty members said he didn’t know. It would just be a good idea for them to promote it better.”


Blaine Rutland, a senior physics major, said that the observatory is beneficial for students.


“The observatory encourages students to get involved in extracurricular activities, such as astronomical research,” Rutland said.


Rutland said that he, along with the rest of Tech’s astronomy club, had previously been a part of the efforts to renovate the building.


“I decided to help out with repainting and the cleanup of the observatory because I’ve always been interested in astronomy,” he said. “It gave me an opportunity to help students in the future.”


As for now, however, Shaw said there are no immediate plans for the observatory.


“Right now, my big plan is to get more people involved in the type of work that we do there,” he said. “Having an observatory that can do the research ours does, and is available for undergraduate research, is pretty unique.”


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