AAS 201st Meeting, January, 2003
Session 10. Telescopes and Observatories for Education and Outreach
Poster, Monday, January 6, 2003, 9:20am-6:30pm, Exhibit Hall AB

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[10.02] Construction of a Research Observatory on a Small-College Budget

J. Dire (U.S. Coast Guard Academy, Dept. of Science)

The Coast Guard Academy (CGA) is the smallest of the five federal service academies, with approximately 900 cadets enrolled. Historically, astronomy has been an integral part of the curriculum, as evidenced by an astronomical observatory being one of the original buildings constructed in 1932 on the Academy's present campus. In the 1990s, the original observatory was in need of major renovation. Also, light pollution and development on campus made it practical to relocate the observatory 12 miles east of campus, on a large plot of rural land owned by the Coast Guard Foundation. However, no appropriated funds were available for construction of a new facility.

A $30,000 grant was obtained from the Robert T. Alexander (CGA Class of 1931) Trust for construction of a new 256-square-foot observatory. A Coast Guard civil engineer designed the building to house a 12.5-foot diameter Ash Dome . He, along with the Academy's astronomy professor, built the observatory on Saturdays over a 27-month period. Volunteers helped with the excavation, concrete work, masonry, and dome installation. The final building was appraised at $144,000, netting a savings of $114,000 for CGA.

Another grant from the Alexander Trust was obtained for the purchase of a new 0.51 m Ritchey-Chretien telescope manufactured by Parallax Instruments in Montgomery Center, VT. The telescope was installed in August 2002, with first light in September 2002.

The observatory is used for the elective introductory astronomy course, and undergraduate and faculty research. Telescope time may be available for faculty and students from other institutions.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: dire@dcseq.uscga.edu

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 34, #4
© 2002. The American Astronomical Soceity.