Paul Ricketts

Swan Nebula

Blue Snowball Nebula

Orion Nebula

Your Guide to the Nighttime Sky

Astronomy has a special place with many, including the Physics & Astronomy Department! We love helping the community explore the stars and learn more about the universe around them. Paul Ricketts and his team of AstronomUrs gather every Wednesday night at the South Physics Observatory.

Paul has been with the U's Physics & Astronomy Department since 2005, directing the South Physics Building telescopes and other astronomy projects. He also has helped build a new observatory in southern Utah. We asked Paul for his thoughts about his programs and astronomy.

Q: What do you enjoy most about directing your program?

The best things are working with so many people to bring science into the world and seeing the reactions of people in all levels and walks of life.

Q: What is your favorite memory/story of your program(s)?

No single memory stands out—it's more like a collection of experiences that build on and are included in everything I do now. There are too many stories to share just one—to understand the stories, you need to experience some of the work we do.

Q: What is your favorite object to observe?

Once again, there are no singular objects that I enjoy more than others but a few are worth seeing: the Swan Nebula, Whirlpool Galaxy, Orion Nebula, and the Blue Snowball Nebula with the 32” telescope at the Willard Eccles Observatory in southern Utah. The Swan and Orion are the closest views I can imagine experiencing in real life that are similar to what you’d see in detail, without color, to images from the Hubble Telescope.

Q: What's the best way for a student to contact you if they're interested in your programs?

The easiest way is to find me on Wednesday night is at the Star Parties, or email at
If you're interested in Star Parties check out the website for the South Physics Observatory.
If you're interested in the AstronomUrs and Outreach, check out their website.

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