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Physics and Astronomy Jewett Observatory

Jewett Observatory

Jewett Observatory

The James Richard Jewett Observatory houses the largest refracting telescope in the state of Washington. The 12-inch double lens was polished at the Alvin Clark & Sons factory near Boston between 1887-1889 by the same optician that fabricated the world’s largest (40-inch) lens at Yerkes Observatory.

The present dome and support building were designed in 1950 and dedicated in 1953. The philanthropy of Mr. and Mrs. George Jewett of Spokane made the project possible, and it was named after George’s father, a professor of Arabic at Harvard, and a “friend of astronomy for many years.”

The observatory is used primarily for student “laboratories” and also contains 10 portable telescopes for hands-on education.

Star Parties!

Jewett Observatory is our direct window on the heavens. In spring, summer, and fall, we hold public star parties, where any interested person can come to view the cosmos through the historic 12-inch Clark. [Due to covid, we can’t use the telescopes due to the possibility of sharing germs through shared contact with eyepieces. ]

Most public evenings feature a crescent moon, star clusters, nebulae, double stars, and other surprises, but what is visible depends strongly on the weather. In 2020, Jupiter and Saturn are summer objects, with Mars visible in the fall.

All are welcome! There is no charge. Please dress warmly, even in summer. Clouds render all astronomical objects invisible, so do not come if you cannot see any stars out. All events cosponsored by the Palouse Astronomical Society.

Jewett Telescope

The observatory will be open on Saturdays near first quarter lunar phases.

2020 open nights:

  • Saturday, March 28, 8:30 p.m. – Venus, early on. Don’t forget Earth Hour! At 8:30 p.m. lights will go out all across the nation and world, including the WSU campus. Student volunteers will take portable telescopes to Terrell mall and set them up for sky viewing. Cancelled due to pandemic gathering restrictions. (But you can and should still turn your lights out at 8:30pm!)
  • Saturday, May 2, 9:00 p.m. – Venus, early on (Cancelled due to gathering restrictions)
  • Saturday, May 30, 9:30 p.m. (Cancelled due to gathering restrictions)

In general, an observatory open night is a low-population-density, outdoorsy environment, and we have plenty of space for social distancing as long as guests participate in it. However, we can’t use our telescopes due to the likelihood of sharing germs through eyepiece contact, so the remainder of our 2020 open nights will not include telescope views (weather permitting, we will have a live video feed on-site starting Aug 22).

  • Saturday, June 27, 9:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, July 25, 9:00 p.m.  – Jupiter & Saturn visible late.
  • Saturday, Aug 22, 9:00 p.m.  – Jupiter & Saturn – With mandated gatherings limited to ten persons, please treat this open night rather like a cruise-through. See the telescope and view Saturn or Jupiter and then drift on to allow others to cycle through. Masks and social distancing, please. Thank you!
  • Saturday, Sep 19, 9:00 p.m. –  Jupiter & Saturn. Mars visible late. – This date cancelled due to either smoke or rain (because we’ll be having one or the other).
  • Saturday, Oct 24, 9:00 p.m. – Mars visible late. Jupiter & Saturn

 

2019 open nights:

  • Saturday, March 16 2019, 9:00 p.m.
  • Friday, April 12, 2019, 5:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m., Yuri’s Night celebration.
  • Saturday, April 13, 2019, 9:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, May 11, 2019, 9:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, June 8, 2019, 9:30 p.m. Jupiter is near opposition.
  • Saturday, July 6, 2019, 9:30 p.m. Saturn is near opposition.
  • Saturday, Aug 3, 2019, 9:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, Aug 24, 2019, 9:00 p.m.  Jupiter, Saturn, and the tail end of the Perseid meteor shower.
  • Saturday, Oct 5, 2019, 9:00 p.m. Saturn and the Southern Taurid meteor shower.
  • Monday, Nov 11, 2019, 7:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m., Transit of Mercury event

Events are cancelled in the case of cloudy or inclement weather.

Directions

The observatory is located near the intersection of Grimes Way and Olympia Avenue. There are about a dozen “blue” parking slots at the observatory (anybody can park there after hours or on weekends).

From Spokane, take Hwy 195 south to Pullman. Follow Hwy 270 east. Hwy 270 jogs through downtown and continues to the University. Turn left on Stadium Way, then the first right turn onto Olympia. Olympia turns sharply to the left and uphill. Go past the stop sign at Chinook Drive. You will see the equine track downhill to your right and the observatory dome uphill to your left. Turn on Observatory Drive and park.

From Lewiston, take Hwy 195 north to Pullman. Follow Hwy 27, which becomes Grand Avenue, until you reach the downtown area. Turn right and follow Hwy 270 east to the University. Turn left on Stadium Way, then the first right turn onto Olympia. Olympia turns sharply to the left and uphill. Go past the stop sign at Chinook Drive. You will see the equine track downhill to your right and the observatory dome uphill to your left. Turn on Observatory Drive and park.

From Moscow on Hwy 270, turn right on Stadium Way, then immediately right on Olympia. Olympia turns sharply to the left and uphill. Go past the stop sign at Chinook Drive. You will see the equine track downhill to your right and the observatory dome uphill to your left. Turn on Observatory Drive and park.

The observatory has no on-site telephone. Use 335-4994 for messages.

Observatory coordinates: 46 deg 43 m 43.5 s N. Latitude, 117 deg 09 m 09 s W. Longitude