Castleton State College students can now observe a galaxy far far away. On Oct. 24, the college will be hosting a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the re-birth of Castleton’s long-dormant observatory.Although installed in the 1960’s, the observatory on the corner of the Public safety lot hasn’t been used in decades with its telescope long forgotten, according to astronomy professor Catherine Garland.
For the last five years, however, Garland with the help of the Green Mountain Alliance of Amateur Astronomers, has worked to restore the telescope.
“It’s ready!” Garland said last week through a wide smile. “It has been a long time coming and the day is finally here.”
Garland told the exciting news to her astronomy class this week. Both the Castleton and Green Mountain communities
cannot wait for their first light. “A ‘first light’ is when a person looks through a telescope for the first time,” Garland explained.
“Before now, the closest observatory was Middlebury,” Garland said with excitement.
She said she is expecting more than 100 people to attend the ceremony and has extended her invitation to the entire Castleton College and surrounding community.
The telescope will be pointed at a number of jaw dropping objects including Jupiter and its four moons over 390 million miles away and the Andromeda Galaxy reaching 2.5 million light years away.
Even before news of the telescope, Garland’s class has always been full, sophomore Shelby Lacriox explained.
“Learning about astronomy is a humbling experience to learn there is so much out there besides us,” she said.
After hearing the news about the telescope, Lacroix hopes in years to come that there is Astronomy 2 class.
Nick Reittinger, a science major at Castleton shared in the excitement.
“Absolutely I will be at the ceremony. Reading about it is one thing, but to actually see it is another,” he said.
With the telescope revamped, Reittinger hopes the class is kicked up a notch.
As the moon goes through its phases, ceremony day is growing closer. Professor Garland can’t wait.
“Keep your fingers crossed for a clear night,” she said.
The Ceremony will take place on Saturday, Oct. 24 at 7 p.m. at the observatory. It will include a speech from President Dave Wolk followed by a ribbon cutting and hot drinks and snack for all who participate.