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2011-12 17
William Woods University students and the community
have been getting a closer look at the universe, thanks
to WWU’s impressive 14-inch telescope.
Dr. Joseph Kyger, assistant professor of chemistry, has
been hosting an astronomical viewing series on campus.
He is assisted by two students, Jin-He Wang from Taiwan
and Xia Gu from China. Both are at WWU pursuing Master
of Business Administration (MBA) degrees.
This viewing series would not have been possible a mere
four years ago, before the observatory atop the Cox
Science and Language Building was refurbished.
In 2007, the university’s grant writing class, taught
by Dr. Stephanie Wells, assistant professor of English,
worked with Kyger and Scott Miniea, associate vice
president for university advancement, to write a grant
seeking funds for the renovation of the observatory and
the purchase of a new telescope.
The Allen P. and Josephine B. Green Foundation in
Mexico, Mo., donated more than $10,000 toward the
project. The university also received funds for the
telescope project from various donors.
The observatory was refurbished by 2008, and a portable
Meade LX200R 14” Advanced Ritchey Chetien Astronomi-
cal Telescope was purchased. This model was the most
widely used, professional-grade research telescope
available at the time. A Sony GPS Receiver Sensor, and
other computer and photographic equipment were also
purchased to complement the telescope.
In 2008, Kyger talked about how important the telescope
would be to the university, “First, it is going to provide us
with a new common studies science course (astronomy).
Secondly, it is a wonderful selling point for our university.
It is also going to provide opportunities for the youth
of the community.”
The observatory and telescope have done all that and more,
being used for numerous events, including viewings by
local Cub Scout packs and Boy Scout troops. Kyger set
up the telescope at Crane’s Store in Williamsburg, Mo., for
a 2008 One Read Program in conjunction with the reading
of the book, “The Whistling Season.” In addition, William
Woods students have done service-learning projects with
South Callaway Middle School and provided an assembly
and viewing for Kingdom Christian Academy.
The 2011 astronomical viewing series began Sept. 12 when
Kyger held an event for students to view the moon. He and
his student assistants pointed out the geographical features
of the lunar landscape, and gave students a better idea of
the geologic age of the moon. Kyger also took pictures of
the moon in full phase with the telescope.
“It’s always exciting to have a telescope viewing on
campus,” Kyger said. “If you haven’t looked through a
quality telescope, like the one the university owns, you’ll
certainly be amazed.”
Kristen Withrow, a junior equine general studies major,
attended the event and explained that, “Through the
telescope, the Sea of Tranquility and other features of the
moon took on a unique aura of reality, looking more like the
rugged Arizona landscape than the lunar glow I so
commonly stop to admire.”
Kyger plans other viewing events that will include Saturn
and its rings, the Orion Nebula and other deep space
features. At least one of the future events will be
viewing the moon at or just past first quarter phase.
“That’s when we’ll get the best views of the lunar landscape
right along the sunrise-sunset line,” said Kyger.
A viewing of Jupiter and its moons Oct. 13 proves popular.
Interested students line up for a look through the telescope.
Background photo: Mare Serenitatis and Mare Tranquillitatis (Sea of Tranquility and Apollo 11 landing site) – northeast quadrant of the moon.