Ernest B. Wright Observatory

The Ernest B. Wright Observatory consists of a 4 meter(13 foot) diameter domed building and an adjacent astronomy classroom building located high atop Oyaron Hill on the Hartwick College campus.The domed building houses a 40 cm (16 inch) Maksutov convertible Cassegrain/Newtonian telescope. The observatory has several 20 cm Cassegrain telescopes, one with a computerized drive.

The 40 cm telescope, dome, and classroom building were a gift to Hartwick College from Ernest B. Wright, a long time member of the Board of Trustees of the College, and a life long amatuer astronomer. The telescopes are used for visual observation by students taking the Astronomy or General Astronomy courses at Hartwick College. Hartwick physics majors are encouraged to visit the observatory for a view of some of the wonders of the universe.On occasion a physics student will arrange to use the observatory for a senior thesis project or a directed study. On special occasions the observatory has open viewing for members of the Oneonta community. Also young people from the local schools, scouting groups etc. occasionally arrange visits to the observatory.

The observatory has a CCD camera to take digital pictures, which can be digitally processed and enhanced, and several 35 mm cameras. In addition there is a fine photometer for measuring light intensity of variable intensity astronomical objects. A full range of eyepieces, filters, cameras, film, adapters, charts, logbooks, lounge chairs, and tools used at the observatory is kept in the classroom building next to the dome.

If you would like to see a few more photographs of the Observatory and some astronomical objects photographed at the observatory please visit out Wright Observatory Photo Page.

You can get the "Clear Sky Forecast for the Ernest B. Wright Observatory." The root source of this forecast is the Canadian Meteorological Centre and their Transparency Forcast Maps with beautiful color coded maps forecasting cloud cover for most of North America over the next several days.

Astronomy Courses

Two beginning courses in astronomy are offered at Hartwick College, Astronomy and General Astronomy; the first course has a lab and the second does not. There are no prerequisites for the courses and they are taken by students of all levels and all majors across the campus. All students at Hartwick College are required to take either a physics or a chemistry course and many students find taking an astronomy course is an excellent way to fulfill this requirement. First year physics majors often take General Astronomy even though it is not a course required for the physics major. Since they already have a number of laboratory courses to take before they graduate they choose to take the non-laboratory astronomy course to lighten their load. For more information about the astronomy courses consult the Physics Department Courses page.

Astronomy as a Career

Astronomers come in many different flavors. Mathematicians, physicists, chemists, geologists, computer scientists and biologists become astronomers. Usually a good background at the undergraduate level in one or more of the basic sciences or mathematics is a great introduction to a career in astronomy. Many astronomers start their career with a bachelors degree in one of the basic sciences and then go on to specialize in astronomy at the graduate level. For example a few years a student received her bachelors degree in physics from Hartwick College. She is now finishing her Ph.D. in astronomy at Arizona State University. A large number of graduate programs in astronomy gladly accept good students with B.A. degrees in physics; you do not have to have an undergraduate degree in astronomy to become an astronomer. As with many of the more exotic areas of science there are not large numbers of jobs awaiting the budding astronomer upon completion of their formal education. With an undergraduate liberal arts degree in physics, chemistry, geology, mathematics, biology, or computer science the potential astronomer will find a larger pool of jobs to choose from (while waiting for that job in astronomy to open up.)

For more information about Astronomy and Astronomy at Hartwick visit our Astronomy Now and Then page.

This page prepared by C.Hartley, Director of the Ernest B. Wright Observatory at the Department of Physics at Hartwick College in the City of Oneonta, NY.

All text by C. Hartley, copyright ©1997. The photo at the top of this page is the property of Hartwick College.