Benedictine to host Vatican astronomers | Religion

With a little less than five months until the solar eclipse, Benedictine College is putting itself on the map, getting attention all the way from the Vatican.

“How many astronomers get the opportunity to find themselves in the middle of the path of totality of a total eclipse at a school with an astronomy program where we were already laying plans to build an observatory?” says Dr. Ryan Maderak, director of the astronomy program and assistant professor of physics and astronomy at Benedictine. “It’s just absolutely extraordinary that all these pieces have fallen together the way that they have.”

In preparation for the event this August, the Catholic liberal arts college is planning to build a roll-off observatory on campus to be unveiled at the college’s eclipse celebration in August. The two-day celebration has been deemed an official Vatican Observatory consortium event and will include two guest speakers from the Vatican Observatory.

“It isn’t just for scientists,” Maderak says. “It’s for everyone.”

Construction on the roll-off observatory on the west ridge of campus is expected to start in May. The finished structure, which will be named the Daglen Observatory, will permanently house four telescopes. The project is largely funded by alumni Joe and Frankee Daglen.

The four telescopes, each measuring 14 inches in diameter, will increase the education and observation opportunities for the department, Maderak says.

“We want to take our astronomy program to the next level. One of the things that we have been unable to offer for our astronomy majors thus far is the opportunity to work with telescopes on campus,” Maderak says. “In doing so, we are shooting to put ourselves on par with the big universities.”

The goal is to be able to dedicate…

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