Clarke Observatory

Clarke Astronomical Observatory
University of Mount Union
Department of Physics and Astronomy
1972 Clark Ave.
Alliance, Ohio 44601

Clarke Observatory atop Bracy Hall of Science
Clarke Observatory atop Bracy Hall of Science

The principal telescope in use at the observatory has an interesting history. In 1897 Mr. G.N. Saegmuller of Washington, D.C., an astronomical instrument maker, built to specifications a telescope designed for Charles Ezra Hequembourg, a pioneer industrialist and enthusiastic amateur astronomer from Dunkirk, New York. Following Hequembourg’s death in 1908, the telescope, building, and contents were purchased by Elmer Harrold of Leetonia who, in 1924, donated the instrument to Mount Union College.

In 1968, the telescope was completely rebuilt and modernized under the direction of the physics department of the College, fully restoring the original mechanical excellence. A new 8.5-inch objective lens manufactured by the J.W. Fecker Co. of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania was installed in 1955, thereby ensuring an instrument of outstanding quality.

Photo: Telescope by G.N. Saegmuller
G.N. Saegmuller Telescope

The building was demolished in 1969 to make way for a new gymnasium. A new observatory building was completed at the south end of East Hall. After being disassembled and refinished at the Alliance Tool Company, the telescope was installed in the new Clarke Observatory at the end of February, 1969. Clarke Observatory was moved to its third location on campus when it was relocated from East Hall to its new home on the roof of Bracy Hall. It was at Clarke Observatory, in the first half of the 20th century, that Ohio native Walter Haas, with a full scholarship, studied the skies from Mt. Union. Haas founded the Association of Lunar and Planetary Observers (ALPO) in 1947.

Bracy Hall of Science
The original Mt. Union College Observatory as depicted in a post card illustration, about 1930.
The original Mt. Union College Observatory as depicted in a post card illustration from about 1930. The distinctive scaled dome was preserved and continues to protect the more recent Bracy Hall of Science telescope chamber.

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