The Thomsen Observatory

Southwestern Adventist University founded the Thomsen Observatory in 1984 through the generosity of alums Dennis and Connie Dickerson and the efforts of academic dean Hal Wright and physics professor Roy Campbell. The observatory’s name honors the memory of Eugene V. Thomsen, a modern languages professor and formerly Southwestern’s academic dean. Under Campbell’s direction, the observatory became a favorite Friday evening venue for SWAU and the Keene community.

Several years ago, the original reflector telescope was replaced with a new 10” refractor telescope. Thanks to the efforts of several faculty, alumni, and community members and the generosity of the Thomsen family, the Observatory is functioning once again, but now with the option of either astrophotography or eyepiece viewing. Many additional upgrades are still needed, but the very first photos (Orion Nebula and the M3 star cluster, shown in gallery) were taken April 11, 2018! Watch the calendar for upcoming viewing nights or email observatory@swau.edu.

The Thomsen Observatory is running again as of Fall 2018. You can join! Visit swau.edu/give or contact the Development Office at 817-202-6233.

Friday, June 19, 2020 is the first night open to the public since CoVid-19!.
We will open at sundown, close at 11:00 pm if guests are still with us. Masks are required inside the dome and recommended even outdoors. Please bring your own mask, but if you forget, we have extras.
The number of guests indoors is limited to four at a time until pandemic restrictions are lifted. Please maintain 6′ between guests.

Summer Schedule - 8:30 pm - 11:00 pm (Weather Permitting)
Observatory Public Star Parties are the first and third Friday nights
of each month.
Moon rise and set times are indicated so dark viewing conditions are
known as well as viewing availability of the Moon.

                       Rise       Set      Illumination   Affect
Friday, June 19 -     5:03 am    7:21 pm       2%        Daylight
Friday, July 3 -      7:31 pm    4:51 am      97%        Night
Friday, July 17 -     3:39 am    6:08 pm      10%        Daylight 
Friday, August 7 -   10:58 pm   10:21 am      86%        Both
Friday, August 21 -   9:38 am   10:11 pm      11%        Both
Friday, Sept. 4 -     9:27 pm    9:08 am      96%        Night
Friday, Sept 18 -     8:27 am    8:42 pm       3%        Daytime


Photos from the Thomsen 10″ TMB APO refractor.

Thomsen Observatory

Viewing the lunar eclipse
SWAU students at the Thomsen Observatory,
Solar Eclipse