News Release

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Astronomical Observatory Headed for Culler Roof

02/03/1998

The roof of Culler Hall will soon be home to the new Miami University Remote Astronomy Laboratory (MURAL). The observatory dome will be put in place Friday, Feb. 6.

The telescope in the observatory has an eyepiece for stargazing, but most students and faculty will direct the telescope to certain areas of the sky via computer. Images will be recorded electronically with an attached camera and will be downloadable to personal computers.

Physics faculty members Stephen Alexander, Paul DeVries and Douglas Marcum developed the observatory with assistance from astronomy club members and students doing independent study.

MURAL will enhance several courses, said Alexander.

Making star gazing and image downloading available by computer eliminates the previous need for in-depth training of students on telescopes and photographic skills; allows access for more people than previously fit on Culler's observation deck; and makes such viewing accessible to people with handicaps--something the rooftop deck doesn't do.

"It was the right time to do this," explained Marcum. "Funds had been approved to do needed work on the roof of Culler and the building was being wired for Miami's video and data network."

The fiberglass dome, purchased from Technical Innovations in Maryland, was assembled at Miami's airplane hangar.

Primary users of MURAL will be students in Miami astronomy courses, but it will also be available to astronomy club members and students doing independent projects.

The MURAL homepage will be linked from Web pages of the physics department, astronomy club and faculty members.

A $15,000 gift from Miami alumni Drs. Carol and Hall Crannell provided seed money for the project. A 1996 internal grant for $14,000 was used to purchase a computerized telescope system.

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