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Session 4 - Education: Telescopes, the Web and Curricula.
Display session, Wednesday, January 07
Exhibit Hall,

[4.04] Telescopes in Education: the Little Thompson Observatory

A. Schweitzer (Honeywell), K. VanLew (Front Range Community College), T. Melsheimer, L. Melsheimer (Little Thompson Science Foundation, Inc.), C. Rideout, T. Patterson (Berthoud High School)

A second observatory of the Telescopes in Education (TIE) project is in the planning stages, with hopes to be in use by fall 1998. The Little Thompson Observatory will be located adjacent to Berthoud High School in northern Colorado. TIE has offered the observatory a Tinsley 18" Cassegrain telescope on a 10-year loan. Local schools and youth organizations will have prioritized access to the telescope until midnight; after that, the telescope will be open to world-wide use by schools via the Internet.

The first TIE observatory is a 24" telescope on Mt. Wilson, already booked through July 1998. That telescope has been in use every clear night for the past four years by up to 50 schools per month. Students remotely control the telescope over the Internet, and then receive the images on their local computers.

The estimated cost of the Little Thompson Observatory is roughly $170,000. However, donations of labor and materials have reduced the final price tag closer to $40,000. Habitat for Humanity is organized to construct the dome, classrooms, and other facilities. Tom and Linda Melsheimer, who developed the remote telescope control system for the University of Denver's Mount Evans Observatory, are donating a similar control system. The formally-trained, all-volunteer staff will be comprised of local residents, teachers and amateur astronomers. Utilities and Internet access will be provided by the Thompson School District.

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