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Physics

College of the Sciences

Science II Telescope Installation to Begin March 13

The $350,000, 0.6-meter [23.6 inches] CWU research telescope will be installed in the Science II observatory beginning March 13.

"We've been looking forward to this final step in completing Science II," said Bill Yarwood, executive director of CWU's Facilities Management Department.

The first stage of the operation is to install a crane near the new observatory.

At 9:00 a.m., the crane, with safety flaggers, will enter at the 10th Avenue Mall from Wild Cat Way, on the north side of Hebeler, and travel to the Samuelson site between Hertz and Samuelson. Once the crane has set up, a semi will transport the components for the telescope down 10th Avenue as well. The unloading should take about three hours.

Once at the Samuelson site, the components will be staged for lifting and installing in the observatory in Science II. All components except for the mirror are scheduled for delivery on Monday; the mirror itself is scheduled for delivery and installation March 23. The crane may be on site for several days.

"We're at the mercy of the weather, since installation of the telescope is through the roof of the dome," said Cassandra Fallscheer, physics and astronomy professor. "We won't be able to install it if it is raining or snowing—or even threatening precipitation."

Fallscheer said that staff training on the equipment is scheduled for March 25 through April 3 and expects it should be operational afterwards.

The new observatory in Science II is taking on the role of the 50-year-old observatory at Lind Hall.  During those five decades, the Lind Hall observatory, with its 12-inch telescope faithfully served CWU students and faculty, and the community.  But those decades also represent, of course, nothing less than a revolutionary era in technology and in astronomy. 

According to physics professor Michael Braunstein, the new observatory, housing the 24-inch networked and remotely operable telescope in an automated dome, and outfitted with up-to-date instrumentation, will be a facility many times more powerful than the Lind Hall observatory.  It is a centerpiece of the physics department, and it will provide a range of extraordinary opportunities. 

"Our plans include making the observatory integral to a number of CWU classes, both in physics and in science education, employing it for undergraduate and faculty research, and using it as a showcase of the cosmos for the community," Braunstein said. "Professor Fallscheer is currently developing a spectrograph for the observatory that will expand its capabilities even more.  The observatory will provide a means for its users to observe and collect information about phenomena ranging from asteroids, the bits of material left over from the formation of our solar system, to the violent explosion of supernovae in distant galaxies; from planets orbiting other suns, to the imaging of beautiful stellar nurseries.

"It promises to serve CWU well for the next fifty years."


Media Contact: Valerie Chapman-Stockwell, Public Affairs, 509-963-1518, valeriec@cwu.edu
March 13, 2017

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