sjc observatory in the 80sPhoto: The observatory when it was first installed in the early ’80s. It’s now been restored to its former glory, along with a few additional improvements.

On the roof of the Heffernan Center sits a very fine optical telescope—quite possibly the largest of its kind in Maine. Installed in 1981, the telescope was in disrepair for years. But restoration efforts began in 2014 and now the College’s 14-inch diameter optical telescope is back in action.

“There’s a learning curve before we’ll be able to utilize its full potential,” says Ryan Dorland, PhD, assistant professor of chemistry and physics. The restoration was more challenging than anticipated, and replacement parts were hard to find. But for two years, Dr. Dorland worked with physics students to clean the dome and reinstall the scope. “It wouldn’t have been possible without their help,” he says. Although more renovations are planned, the observatory is open on a limited schedule and was used in physics classes this spring. Prospective stargazers should contact Dr. Dorland at