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A Reality Check

 

The Questions:

1. Would  Institutions of Higher Learning that offers degrees and courses in astronomy benefit from having their own remote control observatory in a Dark Sky location?

2. Would students studying astronomy benefit from their Institution having such an observatory? 

3. Why don’t more Institutions of Higher Learning that teach astronomy have their own remote controlled the observatory in a Dark Sky location? 

 

The Considerations:

Here is a partial list of issues to consider in establishing a remote controlled observatory in a Dark Sky (isolated) location:

  • Purchase of land

  • Ensuring right of access

  • Providing electricity

  • Obtaining Internet access

  • Designing and constructing the observatory building

  • Transportation and receiving of building materials and equipment

  • Designing, building and installing remote operating systems

  • Designing and Installing roof control system (to open/close remotely and on site)

  • Internet control system (radio, router, relays)

  • Remote computer control and reboot system

  • Emergency technical service if any system fails

  • On-site security

  • Providing living facilities with electricity, water and sewer to support on-site technical and security personnel.

 

 Additional Considerations:

 1. What experience and skill sets would an Institution need to plan and establish such an observatory?

 

 2. What time frame is involved for an Institution’s observatory to be operational?

 

 3. What on-site technical and support personnel are needed to maintain operation of the

     observatory?

 

 4. What are the initial construction and recurring costs?

 

 

The Reality:

 

Institutions that have realized the benefits of owning an observatory have invested from $100,000 - $2,000,000 just associated with the initial expenses, not to mention the recurring annual operational expenses of $50,000 - $200,000 for materials and on-site technical and maintenance personnel. Moreover, these observatory installations have been located on campus where light pollution is a serious drawback.

 

UDSAC Membership offers a practical solution to exclusive unlimited observatory access, as well as, providing the opportunity for formal and informal collaboration with other Institutional Members.