Oakley Observatory

oakley comp
The mission of the Oakley Observatory at Rose-Hulman is two-fold. The first mission is to provide our students with the opportunity to enrich their education through a hands-on experience in astronomy. Our second mission is to serve as an astronomical resource for the local community.

The Oakley Observatory at Rose-Hulman will serve students enrolled in our astronomy and directed research courses. The observatory also serves the Rose-Hulman Astronomical Society which consists of students from all majors who are interested in astronomy. And finally, the observatory serves the faculty and staff of Rose-Hulman and residents of Wabash valley who have an interest in astronomy. We regularly host star parties for the local community as well as host classes from local schools.


The Oakley Observatory houses eight permanently mounted telescopes. Each pier has parallel, serial, and Internet connections along with electrical outlets. The wiring runs under the floor to a computer cabinet on the north end of the building. The cabinet is heated and air conditioned. The control computers are all connected to the internet.

Clark Refractor

clark refractor

Our #1 telescope is the 6-inch Clark refractor. Alvan Clark (1804-87) and his two sons, Alvan Graham and George Bassett were world famous for making the best telescopes as well as the largest telescopes of the time. Hans Eppinger of Hughes Optical Products, Inc. donated the optical tube assembly of the Clark refractor to Rose-Hulman in 1990. Because there was no mount for the telescope, it was mounted on a wall in Moench Hall as a decoration. Later, the telescope was completely refurbished and placed on a Meade LX750 Mount in the old observatory dome.

Fecker Reflector

fecker refractor

The #2 telescope is an 8-inch Fecker telescope which was donated to Rose Polytechnic in 1961 by Mr. Crawford Failey, president of Wabash Reality, Inc. The telescope was the first telescope in the original observatory dome. It is now on a Paramount ME mount. Like the Clark, this telescope is used for visual observing.


celestron main

The remaining six telescopes are all Celestron Schmidt-Cassegrain optical systems. The Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope is named for Bernhard Schmidt, a German astronomer, and Sieur Cassegrain, a French sculptor. Light enters through a collecting plate. The correcting plate is a thin, aspheric correction lens. The corrected light passes through the optical tube to a spherical primary mirror and then back up to the tube to a convex secondary mirror. The light is returned back down the scope through a hole in the primary mirror.

celestron 2

The #3 telescope is a 14-inch Celestron on a Paramount ME. It is set up with a CCD camera from Santa Barbara Instrument Group (STL-1001E). All recently updated, these cameras have a built-in filter wheel for taking color images. This telescope is used for imaging deep sky objects and for research.

Telescope #4 is also a 14-inch Celestron on a Paramount ME, but this telescope is equipped with an Apogee AP8 camera.

Telescope #8 is identical to telescope#3.

celestron 3

The next telescope is an 11-inch Celestron mounted on a Paramount ME mount. It is used primarily for visual observing. This telescope was purchased by the Student Government Association for the Rose-Hulman Astronomical Society. It was the first major telescope purchase by observatory and the first "modern" telescope. Attached to this telescope, but not visible in this view is a small hydrogen alpha telescope designed for viewing solar flares.

celestron 4

Telescope #6 is another 14-inch Celestron. This telescope was donated by Larry Dultz of Terre Haute. The Celestron optical tube assembly is mounted on a Paramount ME mount. This telescope is equipped with an Apogee AP7 camera and is used for deep sky imaging and observing asteroids.

Ritchey Cretien

richey scope

Telescope #7 is a 20-inch Ritchey Cretien telescope from RC Optical. This is our newest telescope. It is used primarily for deep sky imaging with an STL-1001E CCD camera. This telescope is identical to the telescope in the Oakley Southern Sky Observatory and is helpful for debugging problems with the telescope in Australia.

12-inch Meade LX200
Oakley observatory has two 12-inch Meade LX 200 telescopes. These telescopes were funded by an NSF grant from the Instrumentation and Laboratory Improvement program. We have Santa Barbara Instrument Group ST-6 cameras and filter wheels for these telescopes. The LX 200s were originally our #3 and #4 telescopes, but have been replaced by the Celestron telescopes described above.

The Oakley Observatory also has a 10-inch Newtonian telescope on a Dobsonian mount. This portable telescope is used for visual observing. We frequently take it to elementary schools or to local parks for star parties. The telescope has a solar filter so it can also be used during the day to view sunspots.

History of Oakley Observatory

Contact Us

Observatory -  (812) 877-8127
Lynn Reeder Lab - (812) 872-6078

For more information contact:
Richard Ditteon
CM 171 Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
5500 Wabash Avenue
Terre Haute, IN 47803-3999 USA
(812) 877-8247