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5/17/2024 7:08:51 AM
New Milford Observatory unveils advanced 17-inch PlaneWave telescope
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New Milford Observatory unveils advanced 17-inch PlaneWave telescope

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New Milford Observatory unveils advanced 17-inch PlaneWave telescope


Friday, May 17, 2024

Richard Harris Richard Harris

The John J. McCarthy Observatory in New Milford recently celebrated the installation of a new PlaneWave telescope, funded by community and donor support. This sophisticated equipment promises enhanced celestial observations, overcoming significant technical challenges during its intense three-day setup.

The John J. McCarthy Observatory in New Milford has recently upgraded its capabilities with the acquisition of a state-of-the-art PlaneWave telescope, thanks to the generous contributions of donors and the local community.

The observatory's original 16" Meade LX200 telescope, installed in the summer of 2000, and costing $15,000, was recently upgraded to a cutting-edge 17" PlaneWave Instruments telescope costing $60,000. This new state-of-the-art telescope offers advanced optics and precision engineering, providing significantly enhanced observational capabilities compared to the LX200. The upgrade reflects the observatory's commitment to staying at the forefront of astronomical research and exploration. With this new instrument, the observatory can achieve even greater clarity and detail in its observations of the night sky.

Located on the southwest side of the New Milford High School campus in Bortle Class 4 skies, the observatory has been actively seeking funds since late December to upgrade its aging equipment. This includes not only the telescope but also its mount, optical tube, and scientific imaging devices. According to John Gebauer, the observatory's director, their fundraising strategy involves phased acquisitions, allowing for the replacement of components as funds become available.

New Milford Observatory purchases new PlaneWave Telescope after successful campaign

Bob Lambert, the treasurer and a co-founder of the observatory, expressed his enthusiasm for the new addition: “It’s been our dream that we could have such an amazing piece of equipment, and it’s amazing in many ways,” he remarked. “I would say this is way beyond my expectations for when we started this.”

The campaign has successfully gathered over $85,000, earmarked specifically for the new telescope, which was installed on April 20. Despite its decade-old design, Lambert praised the telescope's innovative features, noting that it's unlike any other currently available in the market.

PlaneWave telescope comes to life at the New Milford Observatory after an intense three day installation process

PlaneWave telescope comes to life at the New Milford Observatory after an intense, three-day installation process

The installation process was intensive, involving a dedicated team working tirelessly for three days. “Six or seven people were there all day for three days straight working like crazy to get it up and running,” Lambert recalled. “It turned out to be a very complicated system. You don’t get sophistication and great technology without a lot of challenges. In those three days, we got it operational and running and tuned and tweaked.”

To celebrate the successful installation, the observatory has planned a private First Light Celebration on May 10 to honor the donors and volunteers involved in the project. The following day, May 11 at 8 p.m., the observatory will introduce the new telescope to the public during its Second Saturday Stars event.

Lambert hinted that the new telescope might be named during one of these upcoming events. He also shared plans to continue fundraising efforts aimed at acquiring additional essential components such as the scientific imaging camera, spectrograph, and filters. These items are projected to cost between $28,000 and $30,000, although the price of the spectrograph remains uncertain.

Bortle Class 4 skies in New Milford CT Observatory



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