The Eastern Illinois University Observatory was completed in 2004 with funds donated by alumni and friends. This observatory houses a 16-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope that is computer controlled for both positioning and data acquisition. It is located in a dark field on campus which makes it both accessible and useful. The observatory now has additional capabilities with a second dome that houses a solar telescope. This means that the observatory can be used day and night (in clear weather) for education or research. The director of the observatory is Dr. Donald Pakey. The observatory can be used for classes, research, and community outreach. Open houses are usually held on the last Friday of each month of the Fall and Spring semesters when EIU is in session (rainy or clear, hot or cold weather). Click here for a map and directions to the observatory. It is recommended to park at the Presbyterian church on 4th Street. To reduce the spread of the Covid-19 virus, there will be no more public open houses until further notice. Sorry!
Bob Holmes - Director of ARI Dr. Pakey - Observatory Director On Eclipse Day the observatory was THE place to be on campus
seen here with his 32" telescope
Astronomical Research Institute
The Astronomy capabilities of EIU do not stop with the observatory. EIU has a collaboration with the Astronomical Research Institute. This is a facility, about 10 miles east of campus (for even darker skies), that has a 24” telescope, a 30” telescope, a 32” telescope, and a 50” telescope. The 50” telescope is the largest privately owned telescope in the world! The Astronomical Research Institute (ARI) tracks asteroids known as Near Earth Objects (NEO). These are asteroids that have orbits that pass within the orbit of the Earth (and so could possibly impact the Earth at some point). ARI has provided more than half of the world’s data on tracking NEOs. ARI is a part of Skynet and that network makes it possible for EIU students to utilize telescopes from around the world for student-faculty projects. Telescopes in Chicago as well as Chile have been used by our students. EIU students, working with ARI, have discovered asteroids in the course of their work. Researchers from ARI are Adjunct Professors at EIU and collaborate regularly with our students and faculty.