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Observatory images

Calvin Observatory


Observatory schedule: Our fall schedule is now in effect. The observatory is open to the Calvin community clear nights Monday to Thursday, with the general public being welcome on Wednesday nights. There is no charge for admission. The observatory is open from 7:30 until 11 pm.


October 15, 2015: Over 200 people came to hear Calvin alumnus Dr. Thomas Strikwerda make a public presentation entitled Direct from Pluto, cohosted by the Physics and Astronomy Department and the Grand Rapids Amateur Astronomical Association.

September 27, 2015: The Calvin observatory held a special open house for the total lunar eclipse. See lowlights (clouds) and highlights at our lunar eclipse page.

September, 2015: The Spring Astronomy 212 class web pages (based on images they obtained with the Calvin Observatory) have been posted.

April, 2014: This semester's Astronomy 211 class discovered a new variable star: V1927+4538.

February, 2014: This semester's Physics 134 class has discovered eight uncatalogued asteroids. They now have the provisional designations 2014 DY20, DB21, DC21, DH21, EE1, EF1, EG1, and EH1.

January, 2013 Ten Calvin students and Professor Molnar are in the American Southwest for a three week course "Astronomy in the Southwest". Read about their adventures in their daily web log.

December 19, 2012: See the images taken by introductory astronomy students this semester with our Rehoboth, New Mexico telescope.

August 29, 2012: Five variable stars discovered in the Spring 2012 class Astronomy 211 (Planetary and Stellar Astronomy) are credited to Calvin students as new discoveries.

March 20, 2012: Two Calvin students have received grants from the Michigan Space Grant Consortium to pursue summer research in astronomy. See news article on the main Calvin page.

November 10, 2011: Four more asteroids received permanent designations, bringing to 105 the number of asteroids with discovery credit given to the Calvin observatory.

September 6, 2011:A type IA supernova has gone off in the nearby Pinwheel galaxy (M101). Compare the picture below (taken September 4) with one taken before the explosion

M101 with supernova

December 20, 2010: Asteroid (596) Scheila has had an outburst, sprouting a tail, and becoming much brighter! Observations with the Calvin-Rehoboth telescope indicate the enhanced brightness is due to a new coating on the asteroid surface. See details here.

November 28, 2010: Asteroid 2008 SG12 received the name Jackuipers!

March 21, 2011: Asteroids 2005 YO, 2008 DU4, 2009 AF17, and 2009 WD25 received the permanent designations 268488, 269147, 269374, and 269554, respectively. This brings to 77 the asteroids discovered with the Calvin College Observatory to receive such a designation! See the full list of discoveries.


Campers in the first Calvin Astronomy Summer Camp discovered six new variable stars! For details on the scientific discoveries made in this science summer camp, click here.

At 7 pm on February 17, Calvin hosted a special presentation on Benjamin Banneker, the first African-American scientist. See the details in the event flyer.

A class of Calvin students set off for the American Southwest in January for a three week course "Astronomy in the Southwest". Relive the adventure through their daily web log.

Observatory Director: Prof. Larry Molnar 616-526-6341
Telescope Dome on campus: 616-526-6435


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November highlights

One November highlight is the Andromeda galaxy. At a distance of 2.5 million light years, this is the furthest object visible with the unaided eye.


This is also a good time to learn how to find the eclipsing binary star Algol. With an orbital period of 2.98 days, it can be seen as distinctly dimmer on evenings when it is in mid-eclipse.