College to dedicate new observatory
The State University of New York at New Paltz will hold a dedication ceremony and grand opening for the Muriel and Jack Smolen Observatory, which houses four telescopes for viewing the night sky, at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 21, at the Observatory on the southern end of the campus. The rain/cloud date is April 28.
The ceremony, which is open to the public, will be followed by a telescope viewing.
Participants should park in the South Parking lot, #35. For directions, visit www.newpaltz.edu/observatory/directions.html.
The Observatory was funded from a bequest from Muriel Smolen. Jack Smolen was an avid astronomer who constructed the telescope’s optics and iron framework at the American Museum-Hayden Planetarium.
After realizing that New York City was not an ideal place for night-sky viewing, he and his wife Muriel moved to the countryside of Hurley, NY. There they constructed an observatory complete with library and domed roof. Completed in 1963, the Eagle’s Nest Observatory was generously made available to the New Paltz community and the Smolens hosted students, faculty and staff there for many years.
In 1980, Mr. Smolen said that his intention was “to bring as many young people here as I can, to show them the beauty and the mystery of the planets and of the nebulae and the galaxies.”
The Smolen Observatory houses Mr. Smolen’s 10-inch telescope from the Eagle’s Nest Observatory, a 14-inch Celestron Schmidt Reflecting telescope on a Paramount mount and two eight-inch Dobsonian telescopes.
The Observatory will support the College’s newly-established Astronomy program, which is intended to train science teachers and spark young student’s interest in the sciences. It will also be used for small research projects and shows for the public community.
Public Viewing Nights
Astronomy Nights will be held on the first and third Wednesday of each month that the College is in session. Telescope viewings can only take place when the sky is clear; call the observatory at (845) 257-1110 to hear a message indicating if the public viewing has been canceled due to poor viewing conditions.
A public planetarium show will take place if the viewing is canceled. The start time changes according to the season; starting in May, 2010, Astronomy Night will begin at 8 p.m. A typical viewing night will include viewing planets, star clusters, binary stars and nebulae.
• No reservations are required and there is no charge for viewing.
• Observatory visitors will spend most of their time outdoors. Be sure to dress appropriately.
• Visitors of any age are welcome at the observatory, but we ask that younger children be under adult supervision at all times.
• The observatory is wheelchair accessible.
• Scout troops, school groups, etc., are welcome to attend the public viewing nights. Please call ahead.
• Once the viewing has begun, the outdoor lighting surrounding the observatory will be turned off. We suggest participants bring flashlights, as you may need to walk to and from your vehicle in the dark.
For more information, visit the Smolen Observatory website at www.newpaltz.edu/observatory.
Located in the heart of a dynamic college town, 90 minutes from metropolitan New York City, the State University of New York at New Paltz is a highly selective college of about 8,000 undergraduate and graduate students.
One of the most well-regarded public colleges in the nation, New Paltz delivers an extraordinary number of majors in Business, Liberal Arts, Sciences, Engineering, Fine and Performing Arts and Education.
New Paltz embraces its culture as a community where talented and independent minded people from around the world create close personal links with real scholars and artists who love to teach.