‘Warko’ Observatory Celebrates 40 Years

Author and comet-discoverer David Levy will lead observance at Warkoczewski Observatory

Renowned comet discoverer, author and Emmy (“Three Minutes to Impact”) Award winning astronomer David H. Levy, Ph.D., will give a free public lecture at the University of Missouri-Kansas City to highlight the 40th anniversary of the university’s Warkoczewski Public Observatory.

Levy’s presentation, “A Night Watchman’s Journey: My Adventures as a Comet Discoverer and Skywatcher,” is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday Oct. 27 in room 351 of the Miller Nichols Learning Center, 800 E. 51 St. The event is sponsored by the Astronomical Society of Kansas City and the UMKC Department of Physics & Astronomy.

Levy is the co-discoverer of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 and discoverer of 21 other comets; author of 34 books; and host of the radio show “Let’s Talk Stars.” He is the first person to have discovered comets by all three possible methods: visual, photographic and digital.

Additional anniversary events include:

  • Observatory open house and solar viewing, 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.
  • Astrophotography and meteorite display, Miller Nichols Learning Center lobby, 6 to 6:50 p.m.
  • Book and photo signing by Levy following his presentation
  • Night observing until 11 p.m.

The observatory, popularly known as “The Warko” (pronounced VAR-ko), is located on the roof of Royall Hall on the UMKC campus. It is open on most clear Friday evenings from May 1st until October 31st, starting at dusk, for viewing of the moon, planets, bright star clusters and nebulae. The observatory is operated by the Astronomical Society of Kansas City for the university, and is home to a new computer-controlled, 14” Schmidt Cassegrain telescope, and a custom-designed, 16” Newtonian reflector.

The observatory dates to “first light” – the first time a telescope is used for observation – on Sept. 22, 1974, using a hand-made, 16 3/8” diameter telescope constructed and donated by Stanley and Helen Warkoczewski.

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