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Observational Astronomy

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The Observational Astronomy program at EIU has a 16” computer controlled Cassagranian Telescope on campus to work with.  There are also close ties with the Astronomical Research Institute (ARI) 10 miles from campus.  At ARI there is a 30” telescope and a 32” telescope that are currently in use.  There is a 50” telescope under construction in that facility.  These capabilities are some of the best available east of the Rocky Mountains.  The thrust of the research is finding near Earth objects such as asteroids and comets.  Finding and tracking these objects is critical to life on Earth because a collision between one of these objects and the Earth would be devastating to all life.  Eastern Illinois University has worked with ARI to find 2 such objects in the past 4 years.  Students learn the use of telescopes along with data acquisition techniques and data analysis processes  in the course of this research.