Observatory is an astronomical observatory dedicated to the
public education in the science of astronomy and to viewing the
heavens. The name and design comes from a three part article written by
Jim Krick of Great Falls Montana and featured in Astronomy magazine
(April-June 1992). Ground was broken on Wednesday, October 16, 1996 and
construction of the observatory began shortly thereafter. The only work
completed in 1996 was digging out the foundation and the pit for
the telescope mount. After the winter months, the concrete was poured
and shortly after, the building was being erected.
telescope, a homemade 10-inch Newtonian Reflector, was finally added
during the Spring of 1998, which put the observatory in working order.
The observatory was dedicated on August 22, 1998.
A campaign to
upgrade the observatory began in the spring of 2000. The members of the
Kalamazoo Astronomical Society (KAS) took advantage of the partial
solar eclipse that occurred on Christmas Day of that year and purchased
1000 pair of eclipse shades. Through sales of the eclipse shades and
many generous donations, the KAS purchased a new instrument a year
after the campaign began and installed it in June 2001.
is located on the grounds of the Kalamazoo Nature Center, which is
recognized as one of the nation's best nature centers. Since 1960, the
Nature Center has been inspiring people to care about the environment
by providing experiences that lead them to understand their connection
to the natural world. It is located on 1000 acres of rolling hills in
Southwest Michigan with a variety of habitats, including mature
beech-maple forests, wetlands, and prairies. The KAS has been holding
public sessions at the Nature Center for nearly two decades and the
observatory increases our long partnership. The Nature Center offers
reasonably dark skies, yet is located only six miles north of downtown
is a 12' x 12' building with a roll-off roof which exposes the inside
to the night sky. Roll-off roof observatories have several advantages
over domed observatories. Some of which include the following:
walls help protect observers from wind and extraneous light, but may be
lowered when necessary. The heart of the observatory is a Meade 12"
LX200 Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope (SCT). Such telescopes have become
very popular among amateur astronomers and small observatories since
they are compact and offer many sophisticated features. The LX200
telescopes are computer controlled, permitting quick, automatic access
to thousands of stars, star clusters, nebulae, and galaxies.
The telescope is
equipped with a complement of eyepieces and accessories, including
astrophotography aids and a solar filter, to support a wide range of
serious observing, the telescope is supported rigidly on a steel pier,
which, in turn, is bolted to concrete pads sunk deep into the ground
and physically isolated from the rest of the building to avoid
vibration and effects of wind. The telescope is equatorially mounted to
provide accurate tracking of stars for astrophotography.
Sessions are held at the observatory twice a month from April to
October. School and other similar groups will also have access to the
facility. At other times, KAS members will be making use of the
observatory for their observing programs. The KAS owes a sincere
expression of gratitude to those members and many donors who stepped
forward with cash donations and in-kind support to make this facility a
- They are simpler and less costly to
than a dome.
- Does not require complex motors and
electronics to move as the telescope follows the sky.
- Reaches thermal equilibrium faster
dome, and does not create a chimney effect as hot air rises out the
open slit of the dome.
- Permits an unobstructed view of the
for naked eye observations and wide field piggyback astrophotography.
roll-off roof building can be
as a shed to camouflage the expensive equipment inside.