By Ericka Pier '14
The Viper Radio Telescope, used to view cosmic background radiation in Antarctica was shipped to campus this summer. Allan Weatherwax, Ph.D., dean of the School of Science and long-time Antarctica researcher, made this possible.
“The National Science Foundation asked me if Siena would be interested in the telescope and I immediately jumped at the opportunity,” Weatherwax said. The Viper Telescope, which had been inactive for five years, was transported from a storage facility in California to campus in June. Upon arrival, Siena science professors reached out to students who might be interested in building the telescope.
Three physics students, Alyssa Endres ’14, Chan Tran ’14 and Tom Dunn ’15 have spent the summer cleaning and assembling the primary structure of the telescope with the guidance of Joe Kujawski, engineer-in-residence. The telescope which will stand 1.5 stories high is scheduled to be fully constructed in two years, with the ability to study solar and radio activity this fall.
“This is definitely a unique and exciting experience,” Endres said. “When this is assembled we will be the first students at Siena to use it.”
The College plans to incorporate the telescope into course work in all STEM disciplines. According to Weatherwax, it is extremely rare for undergraduates to have access to this type of telescope.
To see photos and follow the students’ progress visit http://projectviper.blogspot.com/.