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Jerome Sixtus Ricard, S.J. installed the first (8”) telescope on campus by 1890. The Ricard Observatory facility was built from 1924–1928, and named for Ricard, who died in 1930. An 8” telescope was installed in the 1928 Ricard Observatory. Another telescope (16”) was purchased in 1940 from the Southern Pacific Railway Company; it had been housed in Mount Lowe Observatory in southern California. The telescope was made by Alvan Clark and Sons in 1882 for the Warner Observatory in Rochester, New York. Both telescopes are still installed in the Observatory today.
Father Ricard was famous for suggesting that terrestrial weather is affected by sunspot activity based on his systematic study of sunspots while at SCU. While highly controversial at the time, this has become integral to understanding long term weather patterns, critical for weather prediction.
Since its construction, Ricard Observatory has been used for many different purposes, including Media Services, teaching, IT support, as well as scientific pursuits. In summer 2007, the observatory became the home of the Archaeology Research Laboratory.