Daglen Observatory to Host Viewing of Mercury Transit – Nov. 11

Daglen Observatory Interior - Viewing Chamber

EDIT: This event has unfortunately been cancelled due to weather conditions.

Benedictine College’s Daglen Observatory, located on a ridge just west of the campus on the corner of Third St. and N St., is set to host a viewing of the November 11 transit of Mercury across the face of the Sun. The transit will take place in the morning, from 9:00 a.m. until about Noon, and the public is invited to stop by at any time to see the event through the observatory’s solar-filtered telescopes.

According to Dr. Ryan Maderak, Assistant Professor of Physics & Astronomy and director of the observatory, this is the last transit of Mercury until 2032. A transit of Mercury across the Sun takes place when the planet passes directly between the Sun and the Earth, becoming visible as a small black dot against the solar disk. These happens at regular intervals in May or November.

Common scientific observations associated with the transit of Mercury include measuring the solar radius and looking for changes over time, investigating the Earth’s rotation, and assessing the mass of Venus by variations in Mercury’s orbit.

The Daglen Observatory became operational in 2017, with an automatic roll-off roof, functioning control room, and several large telescopes. Benedictine alums, Joe and Frankee Daglen, funded the facility.

The roll-off design allows for the placement of multiple telescopes, rather than the single telescope found in a traditional domed observatory. In addition to the rolling roof, the observing chamber houses three 14-inch telescopes and one 12-inch telescope on permanent mounts attached to piers that are isolated from the foundation to eliminate vibration. Faculty and students operate the computer-controlled telescopes from the comfort of the adjacent control room.

Maderak said he hopes to begin regular open houses so area residents can check out the observatory as well as view the night sky.

Founded in 1858, Benedictine College is a Catholic, Benedictine, residential, liberal arts college located on the bluffs above the Missouri River in Atchison, Kansas.  The school is proud to have been named one of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report as well as one of the top Catholic colleges in the nation by First Things magazine and the Newman Guide.  It prides itself on outstanding academics, extraordinary faith life, strong athletic programs, and an exceptional sense of community and belonging.  It has a mission to educate men and women within a community of faith and scholarship.

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