What a great event yesterday, even if weather didn’t allow any actual astronomy at Menke at night.
Things went off like clockwork… left Pleasant Valley High School at 4:15 PM… toured Wilton from 5:00 PM to 6:30 PM… got to Gramma’s Kitchen at 7:00… and that’s where things took a bit of a detour in that although the back room was ready for us and we were seated immediately, it did take awhile for orders to be taken and meals served. It was all good though as the food was almost good as the conversation and comradery.
At Wilton School, Grant was ready for the 28 of us with a solar scope and solar glasses display and as he gave a run down on the goals and desired extensive astronomy class curriculums he had instore, and we did a little solar viewing too… nice touch!
We then went inside the school where a number of scopes and cameras and other astronomy related paraphernalia were temporarily on display while final touches were being made to their permanent home in their new Control Center and Observatory. They have gear that included radio and Ha solar scopes, SCT and refractor, color and monochrome cameras, an excellent 12 position FLI filter wheel, and quite a bit more.
We went down the hall, down a stairwell and after navigating past a large hand painted mural of the Andromeda Galaxy (maybe 30 ft long?) reached the Control Center. This room housed 8 large TV sized displays at as many computer accessorized student and instructor workstations. The goal here is to have the students at the workstations be able to control the scopes and cameras remotely, collect, analyze, process and archive data, and work on classroom, personal and extra-school collaboration with the external world… pretty cool!
We then headed out to their observatory… very nice structure… everything automated… the roof split in the center and rolled off each end without the need for post support… the pier is also automated in that it can be raised above wall level remotely when the roof is open allowing for easy access to objects at the horizon.
Along with myself, those attending included Cecil Ward, Terry Dufek, Robert Mitchell, Ken Boquist, Mike Ombrello, Rusty Case, Paul and Andrew Levesque, Monica and Sam Santiago, Ian Spangenberg and 16 PVHS Students.
A very, very special thank you to Grant Harkness for hosting this event and for laying the ground work with exceptional vision for promoting astronomy at Wilton Schools. It’s quite the legacy!