The Goshen College science department has a new addition to its May Term Astronomy class: a 3.5 inch refractor telescope. The telescope was donated by Goshen College alumni Bob Gerber, who decided to regift the telescope to the science department after over 50 years of personal use.

Gerber attended Goshen College from 1957-1961, where he graduated with a B.A. in chemistry. Although Gerber’s main work before he retired was as a general practice M.D., Gerber has always had a passion for physics and astronomy.

“Since [college], it has become evident that physics might have been a better major”, said Gerber, listing Glen Miller, Albert Meyer and Albert Einstein as some of his favorite scientific heroes. To fuel his passion for studying the night sky, he purchased this telescope from Bill Miller, a professor of natural sciences.  Although he is only an astronomer by hobby, the telescope has been well-loved and well-used to explore his personal interests in studying the planets and stars.

However, Gerber decided it was time to give the telescope a new home.

“At age 78 and being of sound mind while modest physical limitations gather, it is no longer likely we could carry the instrument to the patio for use,” said Gerber. Several GC and Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary alumni coordinated transportation for the telescope from his home in Ohio, and the telescope will be cared for by Goshen physics professor, John Ross Buschert.

Buschert is the professor for the May Term Natural World perspectives course, Descriptive Astronomy.

In the astronomy class, for one clear-skied evening, the entire class observes the stars through many kinds of telescopes at Merry Lea. The science department has seven telescopes, four of which were donated. The newly donated telescope was originally designed as a surveyor’s telescope. Although Goshen has other telescopes that are easier to transport and more advanced, this one will be used occasionally for comparative and historic purposes.

Truly, Gerber’s love and fond memories of Goshen College were a main driving factor in the donation of the telescope. He recalls fond memories of campus life, busy classes, good teachers, as well as involvement with the athletic department as a baseball official scorer. It may be hard to believe, but he was only getting paid 85 cents an hour.

“Not bad when you realize you had the best seat in the house for some of the best college level pitching in Indiana!” Gerber says.