There is a feeling of excitement as families and star gazers arrive for the public program that takes place every Friday evening.
With too much cloud cover to do the program outdoors, Director Tom Burns takes the group inside for an alternative program. In the meantime, we literally wait for the skies to clear and hope for our chance to look through the powerful telescopes.
Burns is a colorful character who welcomes the group by saying that we are now “sharing the wonder and majesty of the universe.”
Standing at the front of the room Burns provides an entertaining lesson in planets, stars and the universe. We learn terms like Jovian planet and celestial sphere. We find out how and why to use binoculars backwards to see planets a half billion miles away.
Burns’ passion, expertise and insight about our world make me feel like I am privy to special information. I am sure everyone in the room walked away with new knowledge.
Unfortunately, the clouds never cleared enough for us to use the outside telescopes, but that is the chance you take. Part of the fun in visiting Perkins Observatory is to see this incredible research facility in action.
Built in 1923, the working observatory is used by the Ohio Wesleyan University Physics and Astronomy Department. The dome of the observatory houses a 135,000 pound telescope, the fourth largest in Ohio. Visitors can get up close to examine the many mirrors inside. The observatory is run by Burns, Technical and Project Assistant Don Stevens and a dedicated and passionate cast of volunteers who are excited to share their knowledge.Celebration of the Sun. Programs will run during the late afternoon sessions and offer a rare glimpse of the sun through special telescopes.
Most programs require tickets and/or reservations, and all programs, of course, are weather permitting. Even though my visit to Perkins Observatory turned out cloudy, I still walked away with renewed excitement about my universe and look forward to another visit on a clear night.