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WHS Monck Observatory

The observatory is named after William Henry Stanley Monck (1839-1915), a former Trinity student who became the first person to electrically measure starlight in 1892. The observatory was officially opened by Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell on the 12th December 2008 but has been used for undergraduate project work since October 2007. The observatory is located on the roof of the Fitzgerald building and consists of a 10' fiberglass dome from HomeDome. The dome is mounted on an isolation platform as shown below, so that vibrations resulting from people moving in the dome are not coupled to the telescope (the telescope is mounted on a pier connected to the building).

Observatory Equipment

The Observatory operates with the following equipment:

  • A Celestron Nexstar 11GPS 11" f/10 Schmitt Cassegrain Reflector.
  • An equatorial wedge from APT Astro. The telescope is polar aligned on the wedge and mounted on a custom-made steel pier as shown below.
  • An SBIG ST7E monochrome camera with filter wheel.
  • An SBIG ST10MXE monochrome camera with CFW8 filter wheel.
  • A Meade lunar planetary imager (LPI) camera.
  • A Haystack Observatory 2.3 meter Small Radio Telescope (SRT) capable of continuum and spectral line observations in the L-Band at 1420 MHz. This radio astronomy kit provides everything needed to introduce students to the field of radio astronomy. A radio telescope is an excellent teaching tool as it involves the combined technologies of microwave engineering and digital computing. Its use involves astronomy, digital signal processing, software development, and analysis.
  • A 5cm Solar Telescope that is equipped with an H-alpha (656.3 nm) filter, enabling images of the chomosphere to be captured. Click here to view an image of the March 29, 2006 partial solar eclipse observed from the roof of the physics building.
  • An Atmospheric and Space Weather Monitor (AWESOME). Earth's ionosphere reacts strongly to the intense x-ray and ultraviolet radiation released during explosions on the Sun called solar flares or Coronal Mass Ejections. Using a receiver to monitor the signal strength from distant VLF transmitters, and noting unusual changes as the waves bounce off the ionosphere, TCD students can directly monitor and track these Sudden Ionospheric Disturbances (SIDs). Students can also use the detector to study distant lightening strikes, sprites and a variety of other atmospheric phenomena. Our AWESOME monitor was supplied by Stanford University due to our participation in International Heliophysical Year 2007.


The following figures are first light photos taken by Joe McCauley with the telescope and LPI camera showing Rupes Recta, Vallis Alpes and Montes Apenninus.