AAS Meeting #193 - Austin, Texas, January 1999
Session 33. Astronomy Education and Outreach
Display, Thursday, January 7, 1999, 9:20am-6:30pm, Exhibit Hall 1

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[33.04] The Little Thompson Observatory

A. Schweitzer (Little Thompson Science Foundation (LTSF); U. of Phoenix), T. Melsheimer (Merlin Controls; LTSF), C. Rideout (Berthoud High School; LTSF), K. VanLew (Front Range Community College)

The Little Thompson Observatory is believed to be the first observatory built as part of a high school and accessible to other schools remotely, via the Internet. This observatory is the second member of the Telescopes in Education (TIE) project. Construction is nearly completed and first light is planned for fall 1998. The observatory is located on the grounds of Berthoud High School in northern Colorado.

Local schools and youth organizations will have prioritized access to the telescope, and there will also be opportunities for public viewing. After midnight, the telescope will be open to world-wide use by schools via the Internet following the model of the first TIE observatory, the 24" telescope on Mt. Wilson. That telescope has been in use for the past four years by up to 50 schools per month. Students remotely connect to the observatory over the Internet, and then receive the images on their local computers.

The observatory grew out of grassroots support from the local community surrounding Berthoud, Colorado, a town of 3,500 residents. TIE has provided the observatory with a Tinsley 18" Cassegrain telescope on a 10-year loan. The facility has been built with tremendous support from volunteers and the local school district.

We have applied for an IDEAS grant to provide teacher training workshops which will allow K-12 schools in northern Colorado to make use of the Little Thompson Observatory, including remote observing from classrooms.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: schweitz@frii.com

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