Columbia construction hampering academic efforts

October 30, 2009 11:26AM

Cosmic-minded Columbia students with aspirations of other-planetary study may be out of luck. The Village Voice reports that the university’s new Northwest Corner building at 120th Street and Broadway is obscuring students’ view from Rutherford Observatory on the roof of Pupin Hall, where astronomy pupils and amateurs outside the university have been observing the cosmos for decades. Star enthusiasts are reportedly up in arms over the new building, which is still under construction, because the observatory was one of the few places in New York City from which you could view the heavens unobstructed. “Astronomers need the sky in the same way that chemists need chemicals or geologists need rocks,” Cameron Hummels, an astronomy Ph.D. student and outreach director for the department, said. “If we have this bright wall next to us, it’s impossible for our eyes to ever adjust to the dark conditions to be able to see some of these faint objects that are still visible from New York.”