The Burke-Gaffney Observatory and its Dr. Ralph M. Medjuck Telescope are primary used for undergraduate astronomy education, public outreach, and modest research projects.
The observatory is located on the roof of the 22-storey Loyola Residence tower and was originally made possible by an anonymous benefactor who wished to honour Saint Mary's University's well-loved astronomer. It was opened in 1972 with a 16-inch Ealing telescope, but was extensively upgraded and renovated in 2013 thanks to an investment by the university and a substantial gift from Dr. Ralph and Mrs. Shirlee Medjuck.
The main instrument is a Planewave CDK24, a 0.61-metre diameter reflecting telescope.
It is motor driven to compensate for the rotation of the Earth and has a computer-controlled positioning system.
In addition to visual observations, several electronic instruments are commonly used with the telescope. These include an Apogee Aspen CG16M CCD imaging camera, an Shelyak LHIRes III spectrograph, and a Optec SSP-3 photoelectric photometer.
The observatory also owns portable a 40-cm diameter reflecting telescope, ten 20-cm diameter reflecting telescopes (with several white light solar filters), an a dedicated solar telescope with a narrowband hydrogen alpha filter.