Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences

Visit the Observatory

McCollum TelescopeThe UNI Observatory at McCollum Science Hall will have shows with limited attendance starting September 2, 2021, with other shows advertised in the UNI Calendar.  Since we are going to limit the number of visitors to the observatory for each show, groups interested in visiting should contact Dr. Siobahn Morgan to set up a different visit day or time for a visit.  If a large group shows up, they will not be allowed to visit the observatory.

During the fall semester, the outdoor observatory shows at McCollum Science Hall begin at 9 PM so long as we are on Daylight Saving Time. After the first Sunday of November, the show will begin at 8 PM.  The observatory program will start promptly on the hour. You will want to be sure that you get to the area outside of Lantz Auditorium (McCollum Hall room 137, the BIG lecture hall at the east end of the building) before the starting time so that the observatory guide can show you the way up to the roof. Do not wait inside of auditorium, but wait outside of it, in the lobby area near the polar bear. If you are late, you can not go on the roof on your own, and you will have to come back on a different Thursday night - this is for your own safety.

During cooler months, you will also want to dress warmly since you will be on the roof, and the wind is usually stronger up there and the observatory is not heated. And even if the daytime temperature was pretty warm, once the sun goes down, so does the temperature. Mosquitos can also be a problem, particularly during the warmer months.

Small children may have a hard time looking through a telescope, since they don't have precise motor skills, so you may want to make sure that a very bright object like the Moon or a bright planet is visible, so that they will be able to see something clearly. Since the observatory can be rather crowded, and the program is presented usually under dark conditions, it is not recommended that children under the age of 6-7 attend the observatory open houses for their own safety. It is against University policy for pets to be inside of University buildings, so please leave your pets at home.  The use of electronic devices (smartphones, cellphones, ipads, blackberrys, cameras etc) is strictly prohibited during the observatory show.

The observatory program will go ahead, regardless of the weather conditions. Even on cloudy nights, you will at least have the chance to learn about the observatory and the workings of the telescope.  Typically the observatory show can last from half an hour to an hour or longer.

If you have any questions about visiting the observatory or if you would like to arrange a special visit for a group, please contact Dr. Siobahn Morgan, telephone: (319)-273-2389 (e-mail is preferred).