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Science & Research

Boise State's Observatory Opens Up To Stargazing

Boise State University
Brian Jackson stands next to the Boise State Observatory.

Boise State’s physics department is opening up its newly refurbished observatory for some stargazing Friday night, along with an evening of research into how galaxies form.

How do galaxies evolve? That’s the question for Christy Tremonti. She’s an astronomy professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison who’s on sabbatical in Boise.

She studies the chemical evolution of galaxies and how stars are formed. Supernovae and black holes play a role in her research.

She says we’re lucky to be in the galaxy that we’re in, because the black hole in the middle of the Milky Way is relatively quiet, compared to some.

“I study lots of galaxies that are active and in those cases you can get a lot of gamma rays and a lot of really hard radiation that’s pretty horrible for people and for life, so perhaps if we were in a galaxy that was more active, the chances that we would be around would not be so high,” says Tremonti.

After Tremonti talks about her research Friday night, Boise State physics professor Brian Jackson says he hopes to open up the large metal dome on the roof of the Education Building.

“If the weather’s clear we go up to the newly refurbished on-campus observatory and do some stargazing,” says Jackson.

It took more than two years to restore the old structure.

The observatory was built in 1977. For years it was a popular attraction but had fallen on hard times. Jackson decided to bring the old dome back to life.

“This is the observatory that the Boise State community back in 2015 sponsored a crowd-funding campaign to refurbish and so we’re excited to share it with everybody,” Jackson says.

Jackson raised more than $8,000 dollars to fix up the observatory and add a new telescope.

Find Samantha Wright on Twitter @samwrightradio

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