Widener names

observatory director

CHESTER Widener University has named its first director for the 10-year-old campus observatory, the college announced.

Harry Augensen, professor of physics and astronomy, has been at Widener since 1981 and served as associate dean of science and interim dean for the College of Arts and Sciences.

He oversees all programming at the observatory on top of Kirkbride Hall. The observatory has a 16-inch computerized Meade Cassegrain reflecting telescope and several smaller 12-inch telescopes.

In 2002, it was Augensen's idea to hold stargazing events for the public using portable telescopes until the observatory was completed in 2005. "We've been doing these public events ever since," he said.

One of the more successful was 2003's Mars Night, when 500 people viewed the planet, which was as close to Earth as it has been in 60,000 years, Augensen said.

The first public event this year is Friday from 8 to 9 p.m. For other dates, including sessions for teachers, visit or contact Terri Sminkey at or 610-499-4003. - Mari A. Schaefer