Willard L. Eccles Observatory
University Of Utah
New Video & Images
See the image on the left taken of Supernova 2011dh in Galaxy M51 from WEO.
Click here for the latest images from WEO.
Click here for the newest video of the Leonid bolide seen all over Utah!
Click here to see the first images taken with our new observatory.
Click here to see construction images of the observatory.
Take a video tour of the observatory just as we finish setting up a few last things here.
The Willard L. Eccles Observatory (WEO) is the next step for the University of Utah's Physics Department in becoming the Physics and Astronomy Department. Donations from the Willard L. Eccles and the E.R. Dumke & E.W. Dumke Foundations have made the expansion of the department possible through the building of a new observatory and the Eccles Foundation has also provided a grant to the Physics Department to become a full institutional member with the Sloan Digital Sky Survey III.
The University has purchased a 32 inch telescope from DFM Engineering. The scope is a Cassegrain design on an high precision equitorial fork mount. The dome and storage facilities are finished and the telescope is installed. Data has been aquired from the site and remote operations are currently being put into place. To see photos taken the first nights of operation go here.
After assessing availability, accessibility, atmospheric stability and sky darkness, the first choice for the observatory's location is Frisco Peak near Milford in Southern Utah. Locations holding an elevetion of approximately 9000 feet and higher have proven to be exceptional sites with seeing (an astronomers gauge of atmospheric stability) of one arc second on average. They are ideally in a central location between two major sources of light pollution, Salt Lake City and Las Vegas. Very dark skies are seen there with the Milky Way visible without much dark adaption at night. Limiting visual magnitude (naked eye) at the sites on a dark night may be upwards of 5.7 to 6.0.
There is an exciting future in store for WEO. The observatory will provide support for further observations for data obtained from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey III and will provide an instrument for teaching new astronomy majors and astronomy graduate students in the upcoming astronomy program at the university and others around the state. High schools around Utah may also have the chance to use the telescope also. Collaboration between BYU and USU will open up the skies to those future astronomers studying there. Research in other fields of astronomy such as planet hunting, Gamma Ray searching, galaxy formation, and others will be possible and are being considered. Plans for public access and outreach will be determined in the next year.