On the fifth floor of the MU Physics Building, a narrow, curved staircase leads to a small room dominated by a large telescope pointed toward the dome ceiling.
This is Laws Observatory, open to the public from 8 to 10 p.m. every Wednesday. Stargazers can browse the exhibit room or look through one of three telescopes on the roof — at least for the near future.
H.R. Chandrasekhar, chairman and director of graduate studies in the physics department, said he hopes the observatory will move to a different location. This is because of viewing obstructions, including the bright lights of campus.
The Life Sciences Center also poses a problem because it blocks objects close to the horizon. It generates heat so close to the observatory that the sky appears hazy, making objects appear as faint images.
“It is like looking down a Texas highway,” said Randy Durk, treasurer of the Central Missouri Astronomical Association.
These problems have prompted Chandrasekhar to discuss with MU officials the possibility of moving the observatory. He would like to relocate it in a new space sciences center that could expand the exhibition material.
“We still have to locate an area with good access and with no large built-up areas around it,” said Chandrasekhar, who is working on getting funding to build the center.