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Session 5 - Education.
Display session, Monday, January 13
Metropolitan Ballroom,

[5.08] A New Observatory for Eastern College: A Dream Realized

D. H. Bradstreet (Eastern College)

The Eastern College Observatory began as a rooftop observing deck with one Celestron 8 telescope in 1976 as the workhorse instrument of the observational astronomy lab within the core curriculum. For 20 years the observing deck served as the crude observatory, being augmented through the years by other computerized Celestron 8's and a 17.5" diameter Dobsonian with computerized setting circles. The lab consisted primarily of visual observations and astrophotography.

In 1987 plans were set into motion to raise money to build a permanent Observatory on the roof of the main classroom building. Fundraising efforts included three Jog-A-Thons (raising more than $40,000) and many donations from individuals and foundations. The fundraising was completed in 1996 and a two telescope observatory was constructed in the summer of 1996 complete with warm room, CCD cameras, computers, spectrograph, video network, and computerized single channel photometer.

The telescopes are computerized 16" diameter Meade LX200 Schmidt-Cassegrains, each coupled to Gateway Pentium Pro 200 MHz computers. SBIG ST-8 CCD cameras were also secured for each telescope and an Optec SSP-7 photometer and Optomechanics Research 10C Spectrograph were also purchased. A Daystar H-alpha solar filter and Thousand Oaks visual light solar filter have expanded the Observatory's functionality to daytime observing as well. This is especially useful for the thousands of school children who frequent the Planetarium each year.

The Observatory primarily serves the core astronomy lab where students must observe and photograph a prescribed number of celestial objects in a semester. Advanced students can take directed studies where they conduct photometry on eclipsing binaries or other variable stars or search for new asteroids. In addition, the Observatory and Planetarium are open to the public. Interested members of the community can reserve time on the telescopes and receive training and supervision from lab assistants. The lessons learned from building the Observatory as well as structural plans, equipment and curriculum development will be discussed in this poster.

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