William Woods University and members of the surrounding community will soon be looking to the stars. Joe Kyger, assistant professor of chemistry, announced that WWU’s new telescope will be up and ready for use next week.
WWU has purchased a 14” Celestron CGE 1400 Schmidt-Cassegrain with StarBright XLT Coatings- FASTAR Compatible telescope to place in its observatory, which is being refurbished. This is the newest telescope of its size within 75 miles.
The new telescope will make its student debut on the William Woods campus at 9 p.m. Monday (Sept. 22) at a One Read event titled “Studying the Stars.” It will again be utilized on Sept. 26 at Crane’s Museum in Williamsburg, following a 7 p.m. book discussion of “The Whistling Season,” this year’s One Read book. That event is free and open to the public.
For WWU, restoring the once-obsolete observatory has been a long journey. Over the years, several organizations have attempted renovation. In 1997, a Boy Scout troop secured a grant from Ameren UE to help with repair costs. The Fulton Breakfast Optimists Club also donated funds to help restore the observatory.
In the spring of 2007, Kyger and the grant writing class taught by Stephanie Wells, assistant professor of English, began the process that would finally lead to the renovation of the WWU observatory.
Over the semester, the class worked closely with Kyger to understand the needs of the university observatory and the exact equipment that would be most beneficial. They published a brochure about the observatory and developed a grant to help secure funding.
Besides the class, many others helped make the dream of a functioning observatory a reality. Scott Miniea, associate vice president for university advancement, perfected the class’s grant and helped secure a donor. The Allen P. and Josephine B. Green Foundation, located in Mexico, Mo., donated more than $10,000 to the project. The telescope project also received funding from various alumni donors.
University administrators have also been instrumental in lending university support and money to help refurbish the observatory.
Kyger understands just how important and beneficial this new telescope will be.
“First and foremost it is going to provide us with a new common studies science course. Second, it is a wonderful selling point for our university,” he said. “It is also going to provide opportunities for the youth of the community.”
Some of the other expected benefits and possible applications for the telescope include:
• Applied science courses
• Art courses
• Arts and science interdisciplinary projects
• Experiential learning activities
• Astronomy Club
• Biology field trips
• Events for home schooled children
• LEAD events for students and community members
• Scouts and community group projects
• Ornithology course
CUTLINE: Professor Joe Kyger and Katie Minnis, a senior from Manchester, Mo., adjust William Woods University’s new telescope.