The Davis Hall Observatory is located on the ninth floor of Davis Hall on the NIU campus.
History and Operation
The Observatory was added to Davis Hall in 1965 and renovated in 2000 through grants received from the NIU and DeKalb Foundations by Laura Layton (the observatory manager at that time), Ralph Benbow and Dave Hedin.
The Observatory dome was constructed in the early 1960s by a local Plainfield company, Ash Dome.
The Observatory rests upon a pair of hydraulic cylinders which allow the floor to be raised and lowered for better use of the telescopes. The clock drive also makes possible reliable 10- and 20-minute astrophotography.
Viewing from the Observatory is adequate, although the proximity of downtown DeKalb, Huskie Stadium and the parking garage produce a significant amount of light pollution. Best viewing is to the Northwest, Southwest, South, North, and dead overhead. Western viewing becomes better when Huskie Stadium turns off its lights. The Observatory is equipped with white lights and red lights. Red lights are used in order to preserve night vision while observing.
The Observatory houses a new Celestron 14-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope, a TeleVue 85 mm refracting telescope, a Losmandy G-11 equatorial mount, and much new astrophotography equipment.
The Observatory is equipped with several star charts and maps, including a Sky Atlas 2000.00. The Observatory computer has Celestron's "The Sky" star-finding software and an astrophotography calculation program on it.