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New telescope lets students explore the heavens as never before

The Liberty University Astronomical Observatory.

A recently constructed dome at the Liberty University Astronomical Observatory houses a 24-inch telescope, the largest in the region.

This summer, Liberty University added a new custom-built 24-inch telescope to its Astronomical Observatory on Liberty Mountain. The scope is now available to students for stargazing four nights a week, and members of the community will be invited to explore the heavens during select events. Faculty, staff, and students participated in an unveiling event held at the observatory Monday night.

“We are excited that Liberty has provided this facility, complete with top-notch equipment, for the university community,” said Dr. Scott Long, associate professor of mathematics. “Now our students will be able to see God’s creation from a unique perspective right from our own backyard.”

The observatory officially opened last fall and is equipped with a roll-off roof that uncovers six mounts for 8-inch telescopes and a 12-inch telescope, each one electronically controlled. Outside there are two pads to allow these telescopes to be repositioned for greater fields of view.

The new 24-inch telescope was built by DFM Engineering, Inc., in Longmont, Colo., and is the largest in the region. It is housed in a rotating dome that was constructed early this summer. The telescope is equipped with cameras to take digital images of the night sky with enhanced detail.

Though viewers can gaze through the telescope directly, it is also specially designed to take long exposure images of stellar objects to bring out details that the human eye cannot see. The telescope can also be programmed to follow specific objects, such as a planet or star, and will automatically rotate to track the object’s motion.

Liberty's observatory features stunning views of the night sky.The observatory, located on Liberty Mountain near the Equestrian Center, is open to students every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday from 7-11 p.m. A bus route is available to take them to and from the observatory.

Senior Michael Foose, a student worker at the observatory, said he is very impressed with Liberty’s diverse range of recreational opportunities and that the observatory is a unique way to appreciate God’s creation.