Positioned atop the Umbeck Science-Mathematics Center, the new Knox Observatory (Dome Image) began construction during the SMC A Core renovation. This space allows students and the greater Galesburg community to view the night sky through various telescopes - one located inside the dome, and up to six more outside the dome, which can be set up during large events. The observatory also allows for Physics major SMC rats to get fresh air periodically.
The dome was constructed in August 2020, but the new telescope was not installed until January 20, 2021. During that Winter term, still dealing with the COVID-19 Pandemic, much work was done to get everything set up. A few test livestreams were done on Twitch, confirming that livestreaming was a possibility for a virtual opening ceremony.
Much has been improved since the last Knox Observatory, which was a temporary "Tupperware Dome" (as Professor Nathalie Haurberg refers to it). This temporary dome, brought to campus in the mid-2010s, was around 6-7 feet in diameter, barely large enough to hold the Meade 10-inch f/6.3 Schmidt Cassegrain Telescope, a professor and a student. As of the summer of 2019, the "Tupperware Dome" was brought down from its perch on the deck on the roof of SMC to its temporary space near the Softball Field while the roof was renovated to hold the new observatory.
Students Philip Griffin and Alex Fluegel redesigned the architect's plans for the observatory space to make it better for outreach and research use. They also proposed plans for the observatory building to be built in-house and to add a permanent shed structure for storage, but these proposals were vetoed by the Physics and Astronomy Department and the Knox administration, respectively.