UIS Henry Barber Research Observatory
The UIS Barber Research Observatory is a community supported astronomical observatory located about 30 km west of Springfield, IL, USA. This observatory is very different from most university research observatories because the Astronomy-Physics program at the University of Illinois at Springfield (UIS) does not have a graduate or undergraduate degree program to supply students to staff it. Instead the Barber Observatory is staffed by dedicated community volunteers who have been trained through advanced astronomy courses offered at UIS.
The observatory was constructed entirely with community donations. It is maintained through an endowment and continued community financial support. The namesake of our observatory, Henry Barber, was the largest contributor to its construction and it stands as a memorial to his enthusiastic life long interest in astronomy.
The observatory staff is drawn mostly from a pool of dedicated community volunteers. Each volunteer has received training through advanced astronomy courses offered at UIS. The observatory volunteers assist with the observing, reduction of data, and maintenance of the equipment. Two of the volunteer staff have a zero time appointment from the university which gives them slightly more responsibility. A few of our volunteers are local K-12 teachers who have earned masters degrees in education through astronomy at UIS.
The observatory director ( John C. Martin) is a UIS faculty member and professor at UIS. The director is responsible for setting the research program, promoting the observatory, and coordinating the day-to-day and long-term activities.
The UIS campus observatory is separate from the Henry Barber Research Observatory. The campus observatory is used mainly for education and public outreach (including Star Parties ). The Henry Barber facility is dedicated to on-going research projects. Access to the research observatory is restricted to the trained volunteer staff and advanced astronomy students.
The site for the research observatory is reasonably dark with an estimated sky brightness of about 21st magnitude (approximately a 4 on the Bortle Scale). Our telescopes and equipment were custom built by Ron Hilliard of Optomechanics Research. There are two domes that house two custom-built Cassegrain focus telescopes: a 16-inch F/10 and a 20-inch F/10. The 16-inch telescope is outfitted with a photodiode photometer and a 2048x2048 back-illuminated CCD with UBVRI filters. The instruments for the 20-inch include a low resolution (R = 1000) single order diffraction grating spectrograph and a medium resolution (R = 20,000) Echellette spectrograph.
Research ProgramsThe research focus of the Henry Barber Observatory is stellar astrophysics. We currently have three on-going long-term programs.
Becoming InvolvedWe welcome continued support from the central Illinois community. If you live in central Illinois and you would like to become involved with the UIS Henry Barber Research Observatory, contact Professor John Martin in the Astronomy-Physics program at the University of Illinois Springfield.