The Lima Astronomical Society will build a second observatory
LIMA – There are important astronomical changes in the work carried out by the Lima Astronomical Society.
The group formed in 1952 when individual members brought their own telescopes to view the sky and conduct astronomical research. When the ground was first opened for the Schoonover Observatory in 1963 and a homemade 12 1/2 inch telescope was installed, their ability to make observations improved markedly. At the time, it was one of only two city-run observatories in the country. The other was the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles.
In 1992, the club acquired a 14-inch Celestron telescope. Over time, however, the equipment became obsolete and the group gradually settled into amateur astronomy. Nonetheless, LAS members maintained a lifelong interest in star science and participated in a nationwide network of astronomy research groups such as NASA JPL’s Night Sky Network, the International Dark-Sky Association, and the Astronomical League. .
Today, however, the LAS is looking to change all that with the purchase of a research-grade Dall-Kirkham Cassegrain Telescope from PlaneWave Instruments in Adrian, Michigan, bringing them back to their research roots by allowing them to once again realize scientific studies that could lead to astronomical discoveries.
The keys to this change will be a better camera and a more precise editing system that reduces the mathematical calculations for the computer to correct the Earth’s rotation.
With the new system in place, the group would be able to engage in two of the hottest areas of astronomy today: the search for exoplanets and the discovery of new asteroids and smaller rogue bodies that are too many for NASA to track.
There are several ways to search for exoplanets, but the most common is the solar transit method.
“We would point the telescope at the area where we know there is a possible exoplanet around a distant star and take a series of photographs over a long period of time. By having a very precise mount, we are able to detect that this light has varied relative to the star. This variation is the planet that transits through the star and attenuates the light,” explained Michael Ritchie, president of LAS.
Once a potential exoplanet was discovered by a member of LAS, the group would forward the information to the Minor Planet Clearing House (minorplanetcenter.net) and the Exo-planet Clearing House (exoplanet.nasa.gov) who would then work with other other observatories. to verify the discovery.
To help bring all of this planning to fruition, the LAS has applied to the Ohio Board of Budgets for financial assistance of $250,000 which will be directed towards improving infrastructure at Schoonover Observatory, including an expanded parking lot, a upgrading their HVAC system, removing trees and adding a new telescope. The Ohio Senate passed the budget, approving the full $250,000 by May 31.
Additionally, the organization has already raised $16,000 of the $50,000 to $100,000 needed to build a second observatory in Lima, with a larger Cassegrain from PlaneWave Instruments, which would be located in Kendrick Woods.
According to Ritchie, the LAS, a 501(c)3, solicits donations from area businesses and service organizations and from the public to donate through their website. limaastro.com. They also hope to find a grant writer to help them raise the additional funds needed to complete this second observatory, as well as establish a science center that could be located at one of the two observatory sites or at a unknown location in the city center.
In addition to its regular public meetings from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. and viewing opportunities starting at 9 p.m. offered each Friday, there are several special events not to be missed this summer.
LAS will be at the Summer Moon Festival between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on July 16 and 17 at the Armstrong Air and Space Museum, located at 500 Apollo Drive in Wapakoneta, where LAS will showcase telescopes, astronomy handouts, and activities for kids. children. , and sell subscriptions, sunglasses and t-shirts.
The annual Perseid Meteor Shower Tour will be held August 12-13 at Kendrick Woods, located at 971 Defiance Trail North in Spencerville, with staff from the Johnny Appleseed Metropolitan Park District. LAS members will set up telescopes and guide the public by providing viewing tips. Be sure to bring lawn chairs, blankets, jackets, and insect repellent.
LAS Board meetings are scheduled for the first Friday of every month from 7-8 p.m. Schoonover Observatory, Schoonover Park, 670 N. Jefferson St., Lima. Memberships are $15 (student), $20 (individual), $25 (family) and $300 (lifetime).
The LAS is aiming for the stars, hoping to join in the search for previously unknown exoplanets.
The current Schoonover Observatory Telescope.
Contact Shannon Bohle at 567-242-0399, by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @Bohle_LimaNews.