Calvin boasts access to two fully-equipped observatories, one on Calvin's campus and a robotically-operated telescope in Rehoboth, New Mexico. The central mission of the Calvin University Observatory is educational, and the telescopes are used by students at all levels from first year non-science majors to fourth year physics majors.

With our telescopes, we can see fascinating objects in space and capture them in photographs. See a sample of our photos in the adjacent gallery.

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April 2019: Calvin physics and astronomy student Michaela Blain was awarded a Barry Goldwater Scholarship. This continues a long record of Calvin astronomy students winning this prestigious scholarship (Chris Beaumont 2006 [honorable mention], Melissa Haegert 2008, Luke Leisman 2009). Additionally two other Calvin physics major have been awarded honorable mention (Jacob Lampen 2013, Jackson Ross 2018).

The next one we are working on is Wolf 359, the nearest star visible in the northern hemisphere. We imaged this star on April 23, simultaneous with imaging by the New Horizons spacecraft out beyond Pluto. When the spacecraft image is released we will be able to directly see the parallax to this near neighbor.


May Highlights

The planet Venus is the brilliant point of light that has dominated western sky the past several months. May is your last chance to enjoy it before it dives below the Sun to become the morning star for a while. On the way down, it will provide a rare opportunity to view the planet Mercury. Thirty minutes past sunset on May 21 Venus will be just 10 degrees above the western horizon yet bright enough to be easily seen. Look just one degree below it to find shy Mercury! Binoculars may help.

The Big Dipper is nearly overhead. You can use the two stars at the end of the "bowl" as pointers to find Polaris, the North Star, which is below the Big Dipper. You can test your visual acuity by looking closely at the star in the middle of the handle. Those with sharp eyes will notice it is actually a double star. The brighter one is Mizar and its companion is Alcor.

For those with binoculars, look for the Great Cluster in Hercules (Number 13 in the Messier list). In binoculars the individual stars will not be resolved so it will appear as a nebulous smudge.