by Amelia Goldberg, Master Observer
We have seen so much growth in our club over the past several years, not only in membership but also out at our dark site. Our membership is the highest it has ever been with 600+ members. We have seen the huge success of the private observatory project. We see site use increasing with more and more members showing up on prime nights and many members out there during the week.
Most of us are aware of the plan to build more private observatories. But what else needs to be accomplished to make our dark site a state-of-the-art facility? What’s in the works for the coming year? What can we do to help make those plans a reality?
Actually, there is a lot that we can do. Club growth is a good thing but it does require our help, be it physical help or monetary help. Observatory Chairman, Mike Edstrom, has a vision of twelve additional RV sites on the west side of the property, a road to access them, water and power for them, and a parking lot to the north of the new private observatory field. That’s a tall order but all of it is really needed. As with the current RV sites, these new sites will pay for themselves in the long run. However, it takes cash now to get the infrastructure in place. The Board will not fund the entire project so donations from our members will really be needed to cover some of the cost. Mike hopes to get all of this planned, funded and accomplished in 2016.
Another item in Mike’s vision is a new bunkhouse for women and families. It’s needed and it’s fair to our growing number of women and women with young families who want to observe. Unlike the RV sites and private observatories, the bunkhouse will not pay for itself since no rent is charged for its use. If we build it ourselves, we can probably do it for about $4k in materials. We’d really like to get the female membership involved in the construction of the bunkhouse. I know that Rene and I are not the only gals who know how to use a hammer, saw or paint brush. Let’s show the guys what we can do.
The f/7 telescope in the observatory building needs a new mount with GOTO capability. The Board has approved money to have this done. We have purchased and installed new dual speed focusers for both the f/7 and f/5 telescopes using money from this year’s budget.
All donations to the building and upkeep of the dark site are greatly appreciated. All of your personal time and effort, helping in any way you can, is valued by the club. There are so many ways to help, even if it’s just donating some of your time. We can all be part of what’s happening at the dark site. We can all be proud that we helped to make it what it is.