AHS Astronomy Club hopes to build $150,000 observatory
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
ASPEN ” Blessed with three high-powered telescopes ” and no place to use them ” the Astronomy Club at Aspen High School is on a fundraising mission to build an observatory.
It’s an audacious goal for the eight-member club: A recent estimate from Integrated Construction Solutions set the price for an observatory at around $150,000, according to Travis Moore, the astronomy teacher who moderates the club.
To raise awareness for their cause ” and some money ” the club plans to hold a “Star Party” from 8 -10 p.m. today at Aspen High School. The event, which is open to the public, will allow students to show off the district planetarium and lead guided tours of the night sky, helping guests view celestial objects using telescopes.
They will also hold a silent auction for two 8-inch Dobsonian telescopes that the students made in the high school wood shop.
“We knew observatories weren’t going to be cheap,” senior Scott Lacy said. “I don’t really know when we decided to build telescopes [to auction off], but … that’s what we’re doing.”
It’s not that the students can’t use the school’s Meade telescopes without an observatory, they say ” but the telescopes are so advanced that they take hours to set up. Once turned on and programmed, though, the telescopes can actually tell the viewer what to look at on a particular day ” and point themselves in the proper direction.
An observatory, explained senior Zach Nichols, would make the school’s telescopes more accessible to students who don’t know how to set them up ” and would mean they could be used even in inclement weather.
In the meantime, the students do have a planetarium, which will also be part of tonight’s tour, especially if the weather doesn’t cooperate. The planetarium was built when the school was first constructed, said Moore, and was recently updated with a new digital projector. It’s now able to project the current night’s sky, show images from the Hubble telescope, and even label the stars, moons and planets shown.
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