New Residence Halls Problematic to Astronomy Department


This is the view from the observatory that is now blocked and unavailable due to the new buildings.

Light fixtures installed on the newly opened lawn between Burke and Pinchin Hall, Colgate’s new residence halls, causes major problems for the Astronomy department, according to Astrophysics major and Astronomy Club president, senior Jacob Pilawa. Colgate’s Foggy Bottom Observatory previously looked out over the field above  Andrews Hall, which blocked any ambient light coming from the Residential Quad. With the new residential quad further up the hill, 20 lights are visible from the observatory dome. 

Foggy Bottom Observatory provides student researchers with rare agency over their research due to its availability to Colgate students, according to the Physics and Astronomy department.

“The University’s location on a rural hilltop with limited light pollution grants us an incredible view of the night sky,” the University’s website states. “Students and faculty utilize the advanced research equipment at [the Foggy Bottom Observatory] to conduct high-level research.” 

Pilawa said he was shocked by the limited visibility from the observatory when he returned to campus this semester.

“I got to campus and saw it and I was like ‘oh my God!’” Pilawa said. “There are no good views of the night sky anymore.” 

Pilawa said he feels angered by the light fixtures’ interference with what he believes to be the best place on campus to stargaze. According to Pilawa, any student interested in wondering at the night sky will have to hike up to the ski hills if they want an unfettered view of the stars. 

Astronomy student and sophomore Josh Liberman, said the university failed to follow through on promises. Both Liberman and Pilawa said they feel students using the observatory should have been consulted about the astronomical effects of the new construction.

“We were promised that the dorm lights would be shielded from glare, but they aren’t,” Liberman said. 

According to Pilawa, it is still possible to mitigate the impediment on astronomy research, if the administration chooses to purchase lamp shades or plant a tree blind.