Daglen Observatory | Benedictine College

Daglen Observatory

Location on map

The Daglen Observatory just west of campus became operational in 2017, with an automatic roll-off roof, functioning control room, and four large telescopes pointed to the sky. Funded by Joe ’69 and Frankee Wright ’69 Daglen, the facility will help expand Benedictine’s astronomy program, both academically and into the community.

The observatory has been accepted into the Vatican Observatory Consortium and was dedicated by the priest president of the National Committee for Astronomy for the Vatican and the priest who is vice-director of the Committee.

“The telescopes will be used for precision upper level labs, basic research, and public open houses,” said Dr. Ryan Maderak ’03, assistant professor of astronomy.

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 two 14-inch telescopes on permanent mounts attached to piers that are isolated from the foundation to eliminate vibration. Faculty and students will operate the computer-controlled telescopes from the comfort of the adjacent control room.

“This remarkable facility is one of the premier liberal arts college observatories in the country,” Dr. Maderak said.  “It will give our students hands-on experience that will send them on to strong careers in astronomy and the sciences.”

The Daglens, avid private astronomers in Idaho and New Mexico, agreed that the direct, hands-on experience students gain by using the observatory is important.

“Frankee and I supported the observatory project in order to allow Benedictine College to provide actual student astronomy experience by using and understanding equipment, systems, and software,” said Joe.

In addition to the increased opportunities for students, the observatory will also allow the college to host monthly viewing nights for the public.

“The new observatory gives us a tremendous venue for public outreach,” said Dr. Maderak.

“The Daglen’s generous gift has not only helped our students, but has also helped the people of Atchison.”