The modern astronomy era at Drew began in 1968 with the acquisition of a Celestron 10″ Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope and one Questar 3.5″ telescope, both funded from an NSF curriculum improvement grant. An observing platform was constructed on the roof of the Hall of Science, and the introductory astronomy course was launched using the two telescopes for observing assignments. It was quickly obvious that an observatory building to house the equipment was necessary. In the summer of 1973 a 16′ dome from Ash-Dome of Illinois was constructed on a concrete pad poured on the roof of the Hall of Science. An observing deck of concrete pavers surrounds the dome, and over the years an additional three Questars have been purchased to use with pedestals on this deck.
The year 1993 brought a complete upgrade to the observatory with the acquisition of a DFM 16″ research-grade telescope, a total redesign of the dome interior, and computer automation of the telescope and dome operation. Parallel controls now exist for telescope operation in the dome and at an interior warm room in the Hall of Science.
The observatory serves both introductory classes in astronomy with required observatory assignments, and the physics major in general as an additional source for student independent study/research opportunities. It is also open to the Drew campus each week for general observing sessions.
Over the years the observatory has brought many a celestial event to the eyes of the Drew and surrounding communities. These include the solar transits of Mercury in 1970 and 1972, the solar transit of Venus in 2004, numerous solar and lunar eclipses, meteor showers, and the many comets including Kohoutek and Halley, right up to the Shoemaker-Levy impact on Jupiter, Hyakutake, and Hale-Bopp.