AAS 197, January 2001
Session 87. Innovations in Teaching Astronomy II
Joint Display, Wednesday, January 10, 2001, 9:30am-7:00pm, Exhibit Hall

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[87.21] The Little Thompson Observatory

A. Schweitzer (Little Thompson Science Foundation (LTSF)), K. VanLew (Front Range Community College), T. Melsheimer (LTSF; Meridian Controls), C. Sackett (LTSF; Johnstown-Milliken school district)

The Little Thompson Observatory is the second member of the Telescopes in Education (TIE) project. The observatory is located on the grounds of Berthoud High School in northern Colorado. The telescope is operational over the Internet, and we are now debugging the software to enable schools to control the telescope from classroom computers and take images.

Local schools and youth organizations have prioritized access to the telescope, and there are monthly opportunities for public viewing. In the future, the telescope will be open after midnight to world-wide use by schools following the model of the first TIE observatory, the 24" telescope on Mt. Wilson.

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.

With funding from an IDEAS grant, we have completed the first teacher training workshops to allow K-12 schools in northern Colorado to make use of the Little Thompson Observatory, including remote observing from classrooms. The workshops were accredited by the school district, and received very favorable reviews.

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