Ritter Planetarium and Brooks Observatory are university and public service facilities on the main campus of the University of Toledo. Our mission is to provide educational and entertaining activities for the dissemination of material related to astronomy, the sky, and our place in the Universe, and to provide opportunities for the university community and the public to view celestial phenomena with medium-sized telescopes. We encourage, and work with, our student employees to develop the skills they will need to pursue careers in the planetarium/astronomy education fields after graduation.
Outside the planetarium is a lobby with various displays, many of them interactive. Brooks Observatory, located in McMaster Hall, contains refracting and reflecting telescopes for viewing the heavens. McMaster Hall also houses a solar telescope and a display for viewing sunspots and other phenomena on the Sun. To fulfill our mission, we offer several kinds of programming:
We present public programs on various topics in the Ritter Planetarium on Friday evenings and programs for children on Saturday afternoons.
We open Brooks Observatory for observing on clear nights after each evening planetarium program. The Ritter 1-Meter Telescope is available in the first Friday evening of each month. When there is an unusual astronomical event in the sky, such as a comet or eclipse, we provide planetarium interpretations and additional public viewing as possible.
School, Group, and Scout Programs
On a reservation basis, we provide planetarium programs geared to any age level (K-12, adult, and senior) throughout the week. These programs include activities and may include observing if they are in the evening.
We provide a half-dozen or so workshops throughout the year on telescopes, amateur observing, astro-photography, and related topics. For large enough groups, private workshops may be requested, including in-service workshops for area school districts.
We can schedule our staff to visit and present programs on site, and/or participate in star parties. We also have telescopes available for loan to teachers and other individuals.
We provide training through courses and experience through employment to students interested in both formal and informal astronomy education. Our facilities are routinely used to enhance undergraduate courses in such diverse disciplines as astronomy, education, communications, and geography. Our staff are often involved in programs sponsored by the College of Education, and the Admissions Office.