Northwest Indiana Robotic Telescope

  • 20″ f/8.1 reflecting telescope
    The Northwest Indiana Robotic Telescope enclosure

    NIRo control room & observatory dome at the CAC

  • latitude: 41o16’13.92″ N
  • longitude: 87o22’30.94″ W
  • altitude: 205 m
  • MPC Observatory Code: W11

The NSF-funded Northwest Indiana Robotic (NIRo) Telescope is PUC’s premiere optical astronomical telescope. NIRo is a 20-inch advanced Ritchey-Chrétien reflecting telescope with a wide-field CCD imager and is housed in a dedicated observatory at the Calumet Astronomy Center (CAC) in Lowell, IN. We can currently operate the telescope both on-site, in the adjacent control room, and remotely, from the PUC campus in Hammond, IN or anywhere with internet access.

Please read Our Story for a more detailed description of the rationale and history of the NIRo project.

NIRo personnel:

By training and interest, two of the physics professors and one of the lecturers in the The Dept. of Chemistry and Physics at PUC are observational astronomers.

  • John Aros
  • Adam Rengstorf
  • Shawn Slavin

Since the dedication of the NIRo telescope in 2010, we have had the good fortune of working with a steady stream of undergraduate physics majors on observational, technical, and engineering projects.

Students (past & present):

telescope platform 082610

l-r: Prof. Rengstorf, Prof. Slavin, B. Segally

  • Brent Segally, ’11 (initial engineering and calibration, eclipsing binaries – T Lmi)
  • Gerald Keller, ’12 (instrumentation – robotic lens cap, LED array)
  • Matthew Bernard, ’13 (initial MPC submission)
  • Craig Holland, ’13 (eclipsing binaries – Y Leo)
  • Andrew Jackura, ’13 (instrumentation – robotic lens cap)
  • Natalie Walker, ’13 (initial engineering and calibration)
  • Daniel Huizenga, ’14 (near-Earth asteroids)
  • Ryan Torrenga, ’14 (eclipsing binaries – Y Leo, ER Vul)
  • Devin Whitten, ’15 (near-Earth asteroids, exoplanets)
  • Jacob Pavel (near-Earth asteroids)
  • Samantha Tarkington (exoplanets, near-Earth asteroids, asteroid light curves)
  • Gerald Balta (near-Earth asteroids, asteroid light curves)
  • Steven Garcia (near-Earth asteroids, asteroid light curves)
  • Joshua Vandenoever (near-Earth asteroids, asteroid light curves)

Here is a more detailed description of some of our Current Research Projects.

Here are some of the recent Publications and Public Presentations pertaining to NIRo and our observational programs.

Aside from the upper-level, physics major involvement with NIRo, we also use the telescope in the laboratory sections of our introductory-level astronomy courses (ASTR 263 & ASTR 264). Our intro-level students have successfully used images of the 1st-quarter Moon to calculate the distances to the Moon and the Sun, and images of the Galilean satellites to calculate the mass of the planet Jupiter.

In addition to all the research and scientific observations we’re making, we also have some time now and then to take some Cool images.

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