Getting closer to the universe

On July 20th 1969, the late Neil Armstrong gazed out over West Crater and probably felt a sense of awe. Even after the 12 years that the Soviet Union used to launch Sputnik, the United States beat them in the legendary Space Race to the moon. Armstrong then uttered his famous quotation, “That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.” During this era, many schools installed planetariums in classrooms in order for the students to learn as much as they could about their nation’s celestial crave. Also during this time, Eastern University’s own Helen Kramer, a faculty member, urged our university to install a planetarium, so the students could learn about the heavenly bodies that God created.

Astronomy professor Dr. David Bradstreet agreed and was able to raise money through grants, funds and donations. Contrary to some beliefs, money was not raised through student tuition. The entire process took about 20 years.
The result is the Bradstreet Observatory, which is located on the fourth floor of McInnis Hall and houses two twin Meade LX200, 16-inch diameter Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes. Because of Dr. Bradstreet’s hard work, the observatory was named after him. The architect that built the observatory is also honored through the Earl Russell Control Room, which is where students take pictures of the stars through computers that are linked to the telescope.

The observatory can be accessed through the third floor stairwell near the Biology Department. With these telescopes, a student can either manually search for the stars, or sit at a computer and simply tell it to point the telescope at a specific celestial body. This piece of technology has allowed students to take amazing photographs and see how truly incredible our universe is.
Eastern is also home to a planetarium, which is located on the 3rd floor of McInnis behind the Curriculum Lab. The planetarium was built in 2006 and was named after the late Mrs. Julia Fowler, whose husband provided a large donation toward the planetarium project. Funding for the planetarium was “relatively easy,” according to observatory coordinator Steve Sanders. “We already had half the money, and Mr. Fowler matched what we already had.”

The planetarium is not only just opened to students taking courses within the Astronomy Department, but to the public as well. Tuesday nights are public nights, and one may join the group by making a private reservation. However, they fill up fast and are already booked through October.

Dr. David Bradstreet and Steve Sanders also wish to inform the public that they will be offering a public planetarium show for the campus and the community during the October homecoming weekend. Dates are forthcoming and the topic of the show will be “2012: The End of the World.”

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