New Observatory Opens

The 41-Year Old Observatory Gets a Much-Needed Upgrade
September 2, 2017

Observatory Director Scott Severson, President Judy K. Sakaki, Provost Lisa Vollendorf and Science and Tech Dean Lynn Stauffer cut the ribbon at the SSU Observatory grand reopening Sept. 8 // photos by Nicolas Grizzle

The new observatory features a slide-off pitched roof

Students review their "night photography" photos taken by volunteers at the Sept. 8 ribbon cutting for the new SSU observatory

A volunteer offers viewing through his telescope

Observatory Director Scott Severson speaks at the grand reopening of the SSU observatory Sept. 8

Astronomy Professor Tom Targett made the only logical fashion choice for the SSU Observatory grand reopening

President Judy K. Sakaki

Science and Technology Dean Lynn Stauffer

Provost Lisa Vollendorf

Lynn Stauffer, Tom Targett, Judy K. Sakaki, Scott Severson and Lisa Vollendorf

new observatory
observatory open
telescope viewing
telescope viewing
computer screen with constellations
students at ribbon cutting
volunteer with telescope
large crowd
viewing computer screen in observatory
scott severson
tom targett
students at ribbon cutting
students at ribbon cutting
judy sakaki
demo at observatory
dean lynn stauffer
Provost Lisa Vollendorf
group shot with president

Sonoma State University has a new home to view the cosmos. After first opening 41 years ago, the Sonoma State Observatory was officially reopened with a ribbon cutting ceremony and public viewing night Sept. 8.

President Judy K. Sakaki, Provost Lisa Vollendorf, and other administrators joined Observatory Director and Astronomy Professor Scott Severson and about 200 students and community members to enjoy hot cocoa, check out the new space and see what they could of the universe beyond Earth’s atmosphere through the cloudy night sky.

Upgrades to the facility include a slide-off pitched roof and digital presentation tools to complement what is being seen through the telescopes.

Roughly 1,000 students in astronomy courses use the facility throughout the year, and students and faculty will continue to be able to use the new observatory for research projects and special studies. SSU also holds free several public viewing nights each semester. The Sonoma State University Observatory is one of the two observatories in Sonoma County.

The new space will continue to host the American Association of University Women’s (AAUW) Tech Trek program, where young girls interested in math and science are encouraged and empowered to study and work in a male-dominated field.

Thomas Targett, an astronomy professor involved in the reconstruction project continues to hope that students from all walks of life come check out the new space.  “One of the reasons I feel lucky to be an astronomer is that almost everyone has some innate interest in the sky,” says Targett. “Even if you are not a STEM student, who wouldn’t want to learn about the Universe they live in?”


Schedule of Observatory Sessions

Sept. 8 7:30  p.m. Grand Re-Opening and Ribbon Cutting with President Sakaki at 8 p.m.
Sept. 22 8-10 p.m. Saturn and the Milky Way
Oct. 20 8-10  p.m. Globular Clusters: Ancient Relics
Nov. 17 7-9  p.m. The Andromeda and Triangulum Galaxies

Media Contact

Nicolas Grizzle