Flyby Tries: Going to the Loomis-Michael Observatory

By Mirika J. Jambudi

I was casually browsing through my email when I saw something from Student Astronomers at Harvard-Radcliffe (STAHR) about an open telescope night. Ignoring the three psets I had due the next day, I headed in the exact opposite direction of Lamont and set out in search of the Loomis-Michael Observatory.

The Observatory is Cool

Located on the top floor of the Science Center, the observatory is hidden away from the rest of campus, serving as one of Harvard’s best-kept secrets. Its location helps visitors escape as much light pollution as possible in a sprawling city. After getting lost and missing the extra flight of stairs to the observatory from the eighth floor, I finally found the observatory.

The Telescope is Cool

As I walked into the room after trying to push the clearly-designated pull door, I was met with the Loomis-Michael telescope, the room’s pièce de résistance. Seeing the telescope lit up in dark hues of red (to preserve night vision), I was quite sure that I had found the eighth wonder of the world (or of Cambridge, at least). At over 100 feet tall, the telescope is absolutely massive and honestly way more powerful than I had expected for a student-run telescope that dates back to 1954.

The Planets Are Cool

Within that first night, I was able to see Jupiter! And Saturn! After spending an hour — or three — up in the observatory talking to other students and taking in the vibes, I was so starstruck (pun intended) that I downloaded no less than three stargazing apps onto my phone. I also learned some cool facts about the planets, like how Jupiter has 79 moons and how Saturn’s rings are made of ice and dust. I felt like a real astronomer…except without the physics.

planets are so cool!
planets are so cool! By Mirika J. Jambudi

Now, I Am Cool

Throughout the semester, I ended up taking telescope classes offered by STAHR to learn how to operate the telescope. The observatory is super cool, and so are the people who know how to use it! And you too can learn about the stars, the planets, and the mysteries of the universe. What a flex to one-up your peers with when you can point out Orion’s Belt faster than you can say “networking.” Highly recommend checking out the observatory on an open telescope night — trust me, you won’t regret it. Unless you have a midterm and two psets due the next day, in which case you might regret it a little. But hey, it’s worth it for the views and the thrill of having the universe at your fingertips.

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