Engineering, Physics and Earth-Space Science Departments Collaborate to Restore Telescope from the 1960s

Published: Last Updated on

Students and faculty at the University of Indianapolis have been working to restore a historical piece of the university. The observatory in Lilly Science Hall is home to a telescope that many people at UIndy do not even know exists, according to junior environmental science and earth-space science major Annie Hadley. This telescope could provide a lot of opportunities for UIndy once it is built, according to Hadley. 

Hadley said this project began from her job as a student worker for the Physics Department. There, she said she noticed the observatory in Lilly Science Hall has not been utilized much and chose to take on the restoration of the telescope there.

“The first thing I had to do was clear the observatory out because it has papers in there, like documentation and stuff from the 60s,” Hadley said. “… The first thing was to clear that out and also at the same time, we took apart the telescope … Once we did that, we took all the parts over to the engineering building.”

Photo by Breanna Emmett The observatory located on the Fourth Floor of Lilly Hall was originally built in the 1960s. The upgrades were an ongoing collaboration between the departments of engineering, physics and earth-space science. There will be upcoming open houses for people to visit the space.

Manager of Mechanical Systems and Laboratories James Emery was one of the people from the engineering department who helped with this project. According to Emery, the team had to clean every part of the telescope as well as document it. He said there was no previous documentation on the telescope or its parts, and he had to do a lot of research to make sure everything was accounted for. With all of the parts properly documented, any future rebuilds or renovations to the telescope will be much easier, according to Emery. 

“I worked with them over winter break and we disassembled it, brought it over here to the School of Engineering and started cleaning everything up and cleaning it to rebuild it, fitting new parts that need fit,” Emery said. “And then they took pictures of every single part the way they disassembled it.”

Emery said the documentation process was somewhat difficult because many of the parts were not for the exact telescope UIndy has, but that they were retroactively fitted to work since the telescope is so large. Emery said the telescope is 12 feet long, and the lens is eight inches in diameter. According to Hadley, the telescope was originally created and donated to UIndy by Loren S. Noblitt.

Emery said working with the different departments involved in the restoration has given him a different perspective as to what other departments are doing as well as what the School of Engineering can do to help them. He said projects like these keep things in the engineering department interesting because it is so out of the ordinary. 

“It gives a different insight of what they’re [other departments are] dealing with, and what the School of Engineering especially can offer to the university because they doesn’t necessarily seem to know what all we can do, what our capabilities are,” Emery said.

Hadley said it has been an honor to work on such an important project, and she hopes the experience will help her in her future career. She said she has enjoyed the learning process and the difficulties that have popped up, and she hopes more people will know about the telescope and the observatory once it is completed. 

“The telescope definitely has the possibility to be a huge asset to the university,” Hadley said. “Once we put it back up, we want to let people know that we have it because I feel like a lot of people didn’t even realize that we have the observatory. And we’ll have a lot of open houses and opportunities for UIndy students, faculty, to actually see up there, and then I’m planning on some scientific outreach projects.”

In addition to bringing multiple different departments together in collaboration, Emery said he hopes the telescope serves as a centerpiece for the physics and earth-space science departments. He said he hopes the university and the community will utilize it to its full potential. UIndy can expect the telescope to be fully restored within the next few weeks, according to Hadley.

Recommended for You