Course and laboratory work in astronomy explores the physical and observational background of such topics as the history of astronomy, naked eye observations, the planets and moons, the origin of the solar system, stellar classification, stellar evolution, galactic astronomy, and cosmology, with an emphasis on the quantitative nature of modern astronomy.
In 1909, Denison University Trustee Ambrose Swasey contributed the funding to build an observatory, which he also furnished with its original astronomical equipment. At that time, his firm, the Warner & Swasey Company of Cleveland, had manufactured many of the world’s finest and largest telescopes. Built of white Vermont marble, the interior was renovated and the outer dome replaced in 1970. Today’s observatory houses a 9-inch refracting and two 8-inch reflecting telescopes, which are fitted for astrophotography. It also houses the astronomy library and dark rooms.
Swasey Observatory is used as a student educational and research facility, and also for public outreach. Open houses are hosted by the Department of Physics and Astronomy and astronomy students on a regular basis during the academic year. Announcement of these open house events are posted on the department home page as well as in the local papers.
The Denison planetarium was built in 1995, has a dome-shaped ceiling screen that measures 8-meters (26 feet) across, and contains a computer-controlled Zeiss ZKP3 planetarium projector. Located on the ground floor of the F.W. Olin Science Hall, the 42 seat planetarium is used as a teaching resource in astronomy classes, and is used by physics faculty and students to present regular shows to alumni, parents, other students, and the public. Planetarium shows are also frequently a part of our outreach activities.