MacAdam Student Observatory



The MacAdam Student Observatory is a University of Kentucky building located on top of parking garage structure #2 that is used by faculty and students for research and learning.

Except when the observatory is open to the public, even though the parking gates in parking structure #2 are up,  the structure is patrolled by parking officers. On public nights you may drive to the top of the parking structure and leave your vehicle without receiving a parking citation. 

The "Great" Jupiter-Saturn Conjunction of 2020:

The COVID lockdown prevents us from opening to the public at this time. Fortunately, a telescope is not required, though a pair of binoculars will be helpful. (Our campus telescope would not be useful for this event. Jupiter/Saturn will be below the edge of our dome by twilight.)

Tonight (12/21) looks as if it may be too cloudy; the forecast for tomorrow (12/22) is more optimistic. They will be 9’ apart tomorrow compared to 6’ tonight. You probably wouldn’t notice the difference.

I recommend a pair of binoculars. Go out at twilight, say 5:45 PM or so and scan (about 15 degrees above) the western horizon. If you go out earlier, be certain that the Sun has completely set before looking through the binoculars. You will need a pretty clear view to the west, i.e. without buildings and trees in the way.

There was a closer conjunction in 1623, in spite of the claims in the media. It would have been difficult but not impossible to detect due to the proximity of the Sun. The telescope was invented in 1609, so it would have been just feasible. I could not find any reference that anyone actually observed that conjunction. It would have been a lot easier if you observed it from the southern hemisphere.

In normal times, in addition to the monthly Kentucky SkyTalks there are summer outings at the Raven Run Nature Center with the Bluegrass Amateur Astronomy Club. All of those events for 2020 were cancelled. See for updates.

We will resume the SkyTalks virtually this spring. See the Kentucky SkyTalk tab for updates as they become available.

Our street address is 301 Hilltop Ave., Lexington, KY 40506.

Timothy Knauer, Director

MacAdam Student Observatory
Department of Physics and Astronomy
Phone (Office): (859) 257-7147



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