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The Wall Township Public Schools Observatory Project is now underway. A 10′ x 10′ observatory building with an 8′ dome will be built at the south corner of the Allenwood Elementary School property, beyond the track and backstop. This location is relatively free from extraneous lights, and has an excellent view of the sky.
The observatory building will house several telescopes, including an 8″ Ritchey-Cretien astrograph and CCD imaging camera for high-resolution astrophotography, a 4″ apochromatic refractor with video camera for general observing, a 2.4″ solar telescope with Hydrogen-Alpha filter for viewing the sun’s corona, and a 3″ guiding telescope to keep the system on-target for long-exposure photographs.
The telescope system and observatory dome will be controlled remotely via website, and students and family members will be able to request time on the system through an online form, take control of the dome and telescope equipment to point at their desired target, take pictures and/or videos, then download their images to their local computer, all while staying warm at home or at school. The observatory will close automatically in the event of inclement weather, and missed observing events will be rescheduled.
The Observatory affords our students the opportunity to conduct meaningful scientific research in the area of astronomy, and will help our staff teach the process of the scientific method, scientific research fundamentals, technical research paper writing, and ultimately, research paper publication. These invaluable skills will, without doubt, assist our students in competing for seats at the universities of their choice.
The Wall Township Public Schools Observatory was made possible with help from the Wall Foundation for Educational Excellence. The Foundation raised funds for the project, and the District is grateful for their assistance. It is anticipated that the Observatory will see “first light” in the first half of the 2014-2015 school year.