Observatory History

The original 16" reflecting telescope (some pictures appear at the bottom of this page) has been removed to make way for the new instrument referenced above. The following applies to the old instrument, including some of its history and use.

The Westmont College Observatory was dedicated June 1st, 1957. The main dome features a 16.5'' reflector which was made and donated by George Carroll. The scope is equipped for spectroscopic and micrometric work, whose introduction originally made national news. More recently, it caught the limelight as a group of amateur astronomers from the Santa Barbara Astronomy group observed the rotation of Mars with a CCD camera (Astronomy Magazine, Feb. 1989 pg. 92). These were some of the very first CCD images of Mars taken by amateurs.

The observatory is open to the college community and to the general public. It serves as one of the observing sites for the Santa Barbara Astronomical Unit, a community based interest group that holds monthly meetings at the observatory site. Every third Friday of the month, the SBAU conducts open viewing nights to which the public is invited, to observe the night sky. In the past several years, this club has made extensive use of the observatory, as well as contributing their own improvements to the facility.

The facility has been used primarily for night sky viewing through eyepieces. The drive mechanism and optical components in the scope made it inadequate for use in high-resolution CCD camera imaging. The new DFM telescope currently under construction and soon to be installed will be perfectly suited for a variety of applications, including public viewings and scholarly research for faculty and students.