Iowa State University

Department of Physics and Astronomy
The Erwin W. Fick Observatory

The Mather Telescope at Fick Observatory

The front line research and beautiful images of Iowa's skies, made possible by the Fick Observatory, are constant reminders of the critical role private support plays in the continued success of our university's observatories.
---Professor Alan Goldman, Chair, ISU Dept. of Physics and Astronomy

The Mather Telescope is the first-generation direct descendent of the original 24-inch diameter Cassegrain reflector originally located at Clarksville Iowa. The Clarksville instrument was built by Mr. Milo Mather (Iowa State University, Class of 1907), a very talented and well-known amateur astronomer. After Mr. Mather?s death in 1960, the original telescope and observatory were donated to Iowa State University by the Mather family. It was placed in a new site just north of Ames where it served as the Univeristy's only astronomical equipment for several years.

In 1966, ISU, with funds from the National Science Foundation, built the present modern observatory, now located southwest of Boone, Iowa. The mirror from the original Mather telescope was refigured and realuminized for use in the new telescope. Continued financial support of astronomical research by the Mather family, along with support from local amateur astronomer Erwin W. Fick, has enabled the continued upgrade of instrumentation used at the Erwin W. Fick Observatory.

The 1980s and 90s saw Fick Observatory participating in a number of research projects as well as a continuing role in education for undergraduate and graduate astronomy students. With the advent of solid state imaging devices incorporated into new cameras for use at the observatory, the telescope continues to be a major research tool for Iowa State versity. With its short focal length and sensitive cameras, ISU astronomers obtain wide-field views of the sky to very faint limits. Large observatories, and observatories in space, can probe astronomical objects in fine detail but have difficulty looking at large areas of sky - so the ISU telescope provides complementary data that is essential for understanding the structure of our Universe.

CCD Imaging by Joseph Eitter

All of the astronomical images in this calendar were obtained by Joseph Eitter. After graduating from St. John's University in Minnesota, Joe received his master's degree from Iowa State in 1968, and has served as Observatory Manager for the Department of Physics and Astronomy for the past three decades. He has participated in a number of astronomical research projects. These include expeditions to observe total solar eclipses in Canada, Baja California, Kenya, India, and Indonesia. In addition to his diverse research and technical skills, Joe is an accomplished astrophotographer; the images in this calendar are ample evidence of his expertise in documenting the splendors of the Iowa skies.

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