Just above Umpqua Community College’s campus, near the track, a new remote observatory, one that will be accessible online to homes and classrooms all over Douglas County is under construction. Please watch this page for weekly construction updates and images.
So far, more than $65,000 has been raised for the observatory, including a $20,000 grant from the Associated Students of Umpqua Community College and other financial support from the Umpqua Astronomers, a local astronomy club, Wolf Creek Job Corps, a generous anonymous donor and many local businesses.
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When completed this fall, the observatory will be equipped with powerful telescopes and planetary imaging cameras, which will allow images to be live-streamed to UCC students, as well as to K-12 students and private citizens all over Douglas County, opening up new opportunities for learning and understanding the universe and complex scientific concepts like Dark Matter and Exoplanets.
“Students throughout Douglas County will be able to progress through unique astronomy learning modules designed both for our observatory and for Oregon’s earth and space science curriculum,” explained UCC astronomy professor Dr. Paul Morgan, who is spearheading the observatory project. “Synchronous virtual classroom experiences will engage and inspire students and private citizens to learn more about the universe we inhabit, establishing UCC as a leader in astronomy outreach in the Pacific Northwest.”
The total cost of the observatory is expected to be about $75,000. Morgan is currently seeking grants and private donations to fund completion of the observatory, which is scheduled for fall 2015. To donate to the observatory, call the UCC Foundation at 541-440-7678, or donate online below:
Frame & Roof Post Holes - Thursday, August 27
The building frame and roof track post holes ( 3' X 18") were filled with concrete on Monday. Also on Monday, the telescope pier block ( 4' X 3' X 3' ) was filled with several tons of concrete making an extremely rigid support for the 1100 GTO Astrophysic's mount. Tuesday, 200 feet of three 3/4" electrical conduits were glued and installed in a utility trench as well as inserted into the Tower Building's electrical room. Under slab conduits were also installed on Tuesday for electricity for telescopes, CCD cameras, and computers. Large data line conduits were placed to connect telescope cameras, focusers, TV's , and internet routers to control computers. Heavy black plastic and lots of rebar was installed for the concrete slab. The utility trenched was back filled except for a 20 foot length for conduit repairs. Doulas County Inspectors approved the electrical and mechanical aspects of the slab prior to installation. A concrete truck delivered the nearly 9 yards of concrete to fill the slab forms on Thursday. The concrete forming crew worked and finished the slab to be ready to begin constructing the walls next week.
Electricity & Fiber Optics - Thursday, August 20
Working through the 100+ F heat, the utility trench was excavated from the observatory to the Tower Building. Three conduits will carry electricity and a fiber optical cable for high speed internet. The State Electrical Inspector came and approved the work so that the construction can continue. Electrical and data conduits were placed in the pier block in preparation of a concrete pour next week. Purchase orders for telescopes, a mount, CCD cameras, and various accessories were prepared for approval. The steel track for the roof casters was fabricated.
Pouring Concrete - Thursday, August 13
The slab perimeter was formed and the (14) 4" X 6" posts were installed in the post holes. The 12" sonotube for the telescope pier was installed and braced. Wednesday night, I sighted on Polaris to locate the position of the 3 large pier bolts to true north. Today, the Wolf Creek Job Corps crew poured about a ton of concrete into the sonotube and installed the mounting bolts.
Pole Auger - Thursday, August 6
Douglas Electric crew came with a large telephone pole auger truck and dug 15 post holes for the observatory. One 6 foot hole is for the telescope pier sonotube and the rest of the 14 holes are for 4 X 6 PT posts. Now, we're ready to begin to install the telescope pier, pier block and the 8 posts in the building and 6 posts for the roof roll out track next week.
Site Excavation - Saturday, August 1
Russ Noah provided a backhoe, rock and a lot expertise to excavate the observatory site. Working in 103F heat, the site was dug and the site of the observatory slab rocked and compacted to be ready for construction.
Ground Breaking – Wednesday, July 29
A large crowd of more than 35 people braved the heat to hear about the new observatory and to celebrate the many donations from individuals and local business. The image shows the official start by tossing the first shovels of soils.
Paul Morgan - Contact
Assistant Professor, Astronomy
Ken Carloni - Contact
Chair, Associate Professor, Science