California State University, San Bernardino’s Murillo Family Observatory is scheduling a First Light event to celebrate the successful installation of a new and a repaired telescope in its domes on Tuesday, March 19.

The purchase of one of the telescopes and the upgrading of the second occurred thanks to generous support by philanthropist and attorney Caroline Amplatz.

Typically, observatory viewing events start about 30 minutes after sunset and are weather-dependent. Right now, the 10-day forecast does not predict clouds or rain. Sunset on March 19 is at 7 p.m., so the event will begin at 7:30 pm.

The new 24-inch telescope in the larger dome will be available for guests to view planets, galaxies, nebula and stellar clusters via upgraded cameras displaying images on nearby screens as they are taken. The repaired telescope in the smaller dome will also be available for guests to see at work. Additionally, the observatory will have a number of smaller telescopes available outside so that visitors can image astronomical bodies, such as planets and the moon, with their own eyes.

While the smaller telescope was being repaired, the observatory worked with a non-profit to refurbish one of that organization’s older telescopes. That telescope was temporarily installed in the smaller dome. CSUSB students had the opportunity to refurbish that older telescope and make it robotic. Through that opportunity, they applied their physics and computer science knowledge to develop valuable engineering skills which helped them transfer their CSUSB education into engineering jobs at places such as Planewave, Millennium Space Systems, Northrop Grumman and the Giant Magellan Telescope.

This First Light event represents the transition back to full student and faculty science capability, which has been an arduous journey since the decline of the two former telescopes over the pandemic semesters.

“We welcome faculty and their families, students from CSUSB and our friends from all of the Inland Empire to join us to celebrate this milestone,” said Matteo Crismani, observatory director and assistant professor of physics and astronomy.

The Murillo Family Observatory, which is named after the family of George and Pauline Murillo, who donated $800,000 toward the construction of the observatory project, is an instructional and research facility that also holds visitor nights that are open to the public and intended to engage them in the wonders of the cosmos. Statues of the Murillos grace the observation deck.

Guests may park in the observatory parking lot on Badger Hill, with overflow parking in Lot N. Parking passes are still required and can be obtained via a kiosk at the entrance of Lot N.