Benedictine's Daglen Observatory Open for Comet Viewing

The Green Comet Nears Earth on January 30, 2023

Monday, January 23, 2023

The Green Comet (Photo by AP)

The world is abuzz about the return of Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) to the solar system, an event that only occurs once every 50,000 years! The last time the “green comet” passed the Earth, Neanderthals roamed the planet. The rare appearance has made its viewing a bucket list event for many around the world. While astronomers think it might become visible to the naked eye, a telescope will make the once-in-a-lifetime viewing more dramatic.

To help with the viewing, the Benedictine College Department of Physics & Astronomy will host an open house at the school’s Daglen Observatory (corner of N. 3rd St. and N St.) on Monday, January 30, 2023, from 7 – 9 p.m. If there is cloud cover, the back-up date is Wednesday, February 1, 2023, also from 7 – 9 p.m. The viewing is free and open to the public.

Built in 2017, the Daglen Observatory is part of the Vatican Observatory Consortium and was funded by a gift from Joe ’69 and Frankee Wright ’69 Daglen. It has four large 14-inch telescopes, plus a control room where images from the telescopes can be viewed on monitors. This will allow visitors plenty of opportunity to view the comet and other celestial bodies.

“The comet makes its closest approach to Earth on February 1, but on January 30, there is also a close conjunction of Mars and the Moon, adding to the spectacle of the night, and the moon is slightly less bright, allowing for better viewing of the comet,” said Dr. Ryan Maderak, chair of the Department of Physics & Astronomy. He said there will also be an opportunity to view Jupiter and Uranus.

Dr. Maderak and Dr. Christopher Shingledecker, assistant professor in the department, will run the open house with assistance from students who are astronomy majors or part of the Physics Club.

Shingledecker is a noted specialist on comets who was part of an international team of astronomers among the first to use NASA’s new James Webb Space Telescope. He has written an article on the chemical makeup of comets and was recently quoted in Our Sunday Visitor in reference to C/2022 E3 (ZTF), called the “green comet.”

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 honored to have been named one of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report, the best private college in Kansas by The Wall Street Journal, and 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. Benedictine College has a mission to educate men and women within a community of faith and scholarship.