F. Jordan Observatory was originally built on the site where
the Fogler Library currently resides. It was moved to its current
location in the summer of 1933, next to the Memorial Union. Partly
because of its location on the UMaine campus, the Jordan Observatory
often encounters lighting problems; the
University operates flood lights at night along sidewalks and
streets for the safety of pedestrians. These flood lights can
wreak havoc on observing, especially for objects near the horizon.
The easiest way to get to the Jordan Observatory is to park either
in the MCA lot or the MaineBound sports center lot, and walk to
the Observatory on foot. It rests just outside the south entrance
to the Memorial Union, next to Smith Hall.
The observatory is by no means a large building, and can only
accommodate a set number of people at a time. The central feature,
an 8-inch Alvan Clark refractor telescope, takes up much of the
domed interior of the observatory. Due to the delicacy of the
instruments housed in the observatory, the building is neither
heated nor air conditioned, and visitors are encouraged to dress
warmly if they visit in the winter months. The observatory is
used actively by students of the department of physics and astronomy
as well as for research purposes by members of the staff.
Student volunteers operate the observatory when it is opened for
public viewing. Visitors can assemble inside the dome, and often
student volunteers will be on hand to center the telescope on
specific objects by request. These viewing sessions are very dependant
on the weather, which changes frequently and quickly. Before making
the trip to the observatory, always call the weather hotline at
(207)581-1348 to see what current viewing conditions are.
The telescope itself has been modified with the addition of
a small refractor on the side of the main telescope. This telescope
is a Mogey refractor. A third, much smaller telescope, is used
as a ‘finder scope’ to point the main telescope towards objects
of interest. The entire telescope is outfitted with a clock drive,
which rotates the telescope slowly over time, to account for the
effect of the rotation of the Earth. This keeps the telescope
sighted at the same object in the sky at all times.
The Maynard F. Jordan Observatory, 1999
The observatory from the rear
The observatory telescope was custom built
for the University by Alvan C. Clark and Sons