Sunday, January 29, 2006

The Adirondack Public Observatory 

One of my great memories as child was when my father -- a medievalist -- set up a telescope in our back yard in Iowa City and we (probably he) nailed the rings of Saturn. I felt like Galileo, minus the persecution.

The best stargazing in my narrow experience, though, is in the Adirondack mountains of upstate New York, where my family has had a camp for 90 years. It gets dark up there. You can lie on your back and see more stars on a clear moonless night than I have ever seen anywhere. You remember why we call our galaxy, which we see from the edge, the "Milky Way."

Which makes it an ideal location for this most excellent idea, the Adirondack Public Observatory, which is being built less than three miles from our home.
The not-for-profit Adirondack Public Observatory in its first year has raised about $40,000 toward a $500,000 goal, according to board members. They have chosen a site in Tupper Lake, about 110 miles north of Albany. The parcel, at 1,600 feet in elevation, overlooks the town beach and campground at Little Wolf Pond.

"We are in what's called a dark puddle here," Staves said, noting the contrast in nighttime satellite images of the Earth. "We can actually see the Milky Way, which is something you can't actually see most places now."

An observatory site was offered near the Natural History Museum of the Adirondacks, scheduled to open this summer on the other side of the village of Tupper Lake, but there was too much light pollution from nearby Sunmount hospital, said Jan Wojcik, observatory board member.

This is a wonderful idea, and I am going to write them a check.

Franklin County, New York, of which Tupper Lake is the epicenter, has usually contended for the lowest per capita income in the Empire State. It is the sort of place where many of the locals want the state to build a prison because the jobs would be so great. Tupper Lake, however, is at the beginning of a startling resurgence. The Big Tupper ski area, which has been closed for many years, is being redeveloped on the back of soaring Adirondack land values. More importantly, the Natural History Museum of the Adirondacks, a creation of (among others) the TigerHawk Uncle, is going to open on July 4, 2006. The Natural History Museum is going to be one of the premier non-Lake Placid tourist destinations in the Adirondacks, and a center for the conservation and study of the most important wild place left in the East. If the Observatory gets off the ground, Tupper Lake -- improbably -- will become a hot spot for the popularization of science in the North Country.


Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?