The astronomical observatory at UMass Lowell comprises a robotic optical telescope with research-grade instrumentation. The telescope is mounted on the roof of Olney Hall near our radio telescope.
The observatory was made possible by the generosity of UMass Lowell alumnus David Riccio. David has a deep interest in astronomy and donated the telescope, dome, and camera to the university. In addition, he continues to invest substantial time in the design installation and operation of the facility. David conceived the observatory to provide UMass Lowell students with hands-on observing experience and the same type of equipment and technologies in today’s professional observatories.
Working with David to integrate the telescope into the physics department curriculum is faculty member Dr. Silas Laycock. He joined UMass Lowell in Fall 2010 from the international Gemini Observatory. Dr. Laycock aims to use the new telescope to introduce students to the exciting world of observational astronomy. He currently teaches Astronomy & Astrophysics (95.383) and Exploring the Universe (95.121)
UMass Lowell students use the observatory to pursue capstone and graduate projects in close collaboration with faculty. Mid-upper level courses in astronomy and astrophysics make use of the facility for observational components. Introductory astronomy courses use the observatory in their computer lab activities. Faculty also use images, spectra and other data collected with the telescope to enhance lectures.