Newton Observatory Open for Viewing Mars

MEADVILLE, Pa. – August 26, 2003 – Members of the community are invited to visit Allegheny College's Newton Observatory for a public observing of the planet Mars starting at 10:00 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 3, weather permitting.

Since its dedication in 1901, Newton Observatory has been an important part of the College’s history and continues to be in the center of the College’s astronomy and celestial research. Built of Cleveland sandstone, the Newton Observatory originally contained a 9Ω”, equatorially mounted telescope made by J.A. Brashear of Allegheny, Pa. The telescope, which is still in use today, was a gift from Jesse C. McDowell, a trustee of the College. Other observatory equipment included a transit telescope to determine sidereal time as the stars passed over in the celestial sphere, a sidereal clock (now on display at the College’s Pelletier Library), a chronometer and a sextant. Newton Observatory was built through the generous donation of Mary M. Prindle Newton, who designated the funds for an observatory in memory of her husband and former Allegheny student, Captain Don Carlos Newton.

Although the building now accommodates the College’s Office of Security, the Observatory and original telescope continue to be used for research and teaching. Today however, students and faculty have much more modern equipment with which to work. For example, current celestial investigations benefit from the college's 10″ computer-controlled reflecting telescope and a CCD camera.

For more information, please contact Douglas O'Neal by phone at (814) 332-2911 or by e-mail at

Enriching intellectual and cultural life in northwestern Pennsylvania since 1815.