Leuschner Observatory Garners New Attention

August 5, 2015

Leuschner observatory Inside the Leuschner Observatory in Lafayette Photos Cathy Dausman

The Leuschner Observatory, part of the Astronomy department’s arsenal of research and teaching equipment, continues to receive attention from its hidden home in the hills above Lafayette, CA.

As the department works to review and map out much needed upgrades and repairs to the observatory’s infrastructure, Leuschner is seeing increased interest: In January, architect Carol Reif received an award for photography after submitting a picture she snapped of the observatory dome to the “Day in the Life” contest through the Lafayette Friends of the Library. A feature article in the Lamorinda Weekly followed in July, introducing this wonderful little gem to the community, many of whom had no idea it sits right in their backyard (read complete article here).

Plans are currently underway for various repairs and updates that would allow the observatory to continue operating as a hands-on research tool for UC Berkeley astronomy students and possibly as a community resource. The list of needs is extensive, starting with the road leading up to the domes, which is in need of stabilization and resurfacing. Shutter doors don’t always close, there is no running water, and the equipment is outdated, with the lack of protection from the elements only hurrying its decay.

Despite all of this, the observatory remains a key resource for the department’s many undergraduate students due to its location above the fog line and proximity to Cal.

To contribute to the mission of Leuschner, consider a gift to the Student Observatory Fund!