Sonoma State University has a new home to view the cosmos. After first opening 41 years ago, the Sonoma State Observatory was officially reopened with a ribbon cutting ceremony and public viewing night Sept. 8.
President Judy K. Sakaki, Provost Lisa Vollendorf, and other administrators joined Observatory Director and Astronomy Professor Scott Severson and about 200 students and community members to enjoy hot cocoa, check out the new space and see what they could of the universe beyond Earth’s atmosphere through the cloudy night sky.
Upgrades to the facility include a slide-off pitched roof and digital presentation tools to complement what is being seen through the telescopes.
Roughly 1,000 students in astronomy courses use the facility throughout the year, and students and faculty will continue to be able to use the new observatory for research projects and special studies. SSU also holds free several public viewing nights each semester. The Sonoma State University Observatory is one of the two observatories in Sonoma County.
The new space will continue to host the American Association of University Women’s (AAUW) Tech Trek program, where young girls interested in math and science are encouraged and empowered to study and work in a male-dominated field.
Thomas Targett, an astronomy professor involved in the reconstruction project continues to hope that students from all walks of life come check out the new space. “One of the reasons I feel lucky to be an astronomer is that almost everyone has some innate interest in the sky,” says Targett. “Even if you are not a STEM student, who wouldn’t want to learn about the Universe they live in?”
Schedule of Observatory Sessions
|Sept. 8||7:30 p.m.||Grand Re-Opening and Ribbon Cutting with President Sakaki at 8 p.m.|
|Sept. 22||8-10 p.m.||Saturn and the Milky Way|
|Oct. 20||8-10 p.m.||Globular Clusters: Ancient Relics|
|Nov. 17||7-9 p.m.||The Andromeda and Triangulum Galaxies|