Once upon a time in a quiet corner of the campus, UP had a Starr Observatory. That is, an actual astronomical observatory with a twenty-inch computer-operated telescope for looking at stars in the night sky. The all-too-appropriate name was bestowed in 1985, honoring Professor Merle Starr at his retirement after years of teaching astronomy in the observatory shed.
The Observatory was the 1952 Class Gift; and in actual fact, members of the graduating class worked together with faculty to build it after Br. Godfrey Vassallo, C.S.C., secured the gift of the 20-inch instrument for campus (see, Dr. James Covert, A Point of Pride.) The 1952 installation of the telescope is documented as a campus-highlight page-filler in the 1959 Log.
Through its first twenty-five years stories labelling the Observatory as a hidden-treasure-on-campus featured as an almost annual feature in the pages of The Beacon (14 stories and notices). The building came down in 2009, making room for the addition of the Quiet-Side of the expanded Bauccio Commons. The real doom of the observatory, however, was urban growth and the increased ambient light which washes out the night sky.
The building was not indicated on campus maps until 1958 (number 15). The lens and refractor (which was created as a prototype for the 200-inch Mt. Palomar Observatory in California) is currently in the care of the Environment Studies faculty.