Star Light, Star Bright,
New Observatory Nears Completion

Dome installation on UNG Astronomical Observatory.

UNG’s newest treasure, the North Georgia Astronomical Observatory, is just about ready to scan the night sky! The 3,200 sq. ft. technologically advanced observatory replaces the former observatory where many enjoyed views of the night skies over Dahlonega. The observatory’s main features are two telescope rooms and a multipurpose room for viewing the universe.

 “Our new 24″ and 28″ telescopes will offer views of the night sky not generally afforded to the general public and students,” said  Dr. Gregory Feiden, assistant professor of physics and astronomy. “These telescopes will give more detailed views of our favorite astronomical objects and allow us to see objects that were previously out of reach such as faint nebulae and galaxies.”

The new telescopes expand avenues for student research that were not feasible with the previous telescope. “The new observatory will provide astronomy students exceptional hands-on experience working in a professional-grade observatory with high quality research equipment,” said Feiden. “UNG’s observational astronomy course is designed for physics majors around the observatory, its telescopes, and our instruments. At the same time, astrophysics students conduct research throughout their undergraduate years in preparation for their future careers.”

“Students in the introductory astronomy course are primarily non-science majors, and complete several labs at the observatory throughout the semester, visually inspecting objects and obtaining data using our instruments, ” Feiden said.

The popularity of astrophysics and the expertise of the CSM faculty in this field provide courses such as: Astrophysics of Galaxies and General Relativity and Cosmology, in a new astrophysics concentration for physics majors.

Another astronomical gem is the George E. Coleman Planetarium, on the Dahlonega campus. “Under the 30-foot diameter dome, our planetarium offers immersive viewing of the night sky. Students and the community can experience the turning of planet Earth and see how astronomers map the night sky,” said Dr. Lesley Simanton-Coogan, director of the planetarium.

Committed to serving the community as well as students, the observatory and planetarium host several thousand visitors each year during school field trips and the Dahlonega Science Festival. Future observatory plans for the public include offering new workshops for teenagers and adults, stories under the stars for kids, and more gatherings for astronomical events.

Free public shows on clear Friday and Saturday nights will continue when the observatory and planetarium re-open. In the meantime, enjoy these metro Atlanta TV news segments featuring the new observatory: FOX 5 and WSB-TV2 or the popular planetarium-produced video, Presenting the Night Sky.

Note: The observatory and planetarium are temporarily closed. For updates, please follow the observatory Facebook page  or UNG website.