U.S. Naval Observatory Astronomical Gift Aims CCC for the Stars
By Bonnie Stevens
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The U.S. Naval Observatory gifted Coconino Community College—home of the Comets—with a key to the heavensf.
The DIMM Telescope, currently housed on the Lone Tree campus, is valued at $133,000. “Not only is this an incredibly generous contribution to CCC, this telescope has the potential of stirring that sense of discovery in our students and cultivating a new generation of astronomers,” said CCC Foundation President Christopher J. Bavasi.
CCC Department Chair of Math and Science Maxie Inigo says the telescope will be useful in courses currently offered and may lead to new partnership opportunities that will enhance science education in northern Arizona. “The primary demand for time on the telescope will stem from the Introduction to Astronomy class,” said Inigo. “Access to a research grade telescope will enhance general laboratory experience by exposing students to ongoing astronomical research and thus developing inquiry-based learning skills.”
Officials from the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington D.C. formally presented the telescope to the college. “The telescope was used for collection of “seeing” data, which is essentially the measurement of air turbulence. It has outlived its mission with us but it makes good sense to transfer it over for public use,” said U.S. Naval Observatory Superintendent Captain Steven W. Warren. “My understanding is the community college plans to use it for visible observations where students can take high-resolution images of planetary objects. It will also allow visual and photographic inspection of thousands of remote galaxies across the sky and other celestial observations. So it has a bright future.”
CCC District Governing Board Member and astronomer Dr. Nat White was instrumental in cultivating the relationship between the U.S. Naval Observatory and the college. “The transfer of this fine, professional grade telescope to CCC supports and continues the historic Flagstaff traditions of research and education in the field of astronomy. This instrument has the potential of not only being an unusual teaching tool, but also a superior student research instrument.”
CCC President Leah L. Bornstein says that partnerships such as this are critical for launching the college’s shining stars. “This is an opportunity that few universities and even fewer community colleges offer to their introductory astronomy classes. What a fabulous tool to have available in such an appropriate place for astronomical study.”
U.S. Naval Observatory officials say they are honored to be able to help by providing this telescope to CCC. “The people of Flagstaff and Coconino County have been very supportive of preserving dark skies to maintain northern Arizona's status as a preeminent astronomy location for the Navy, for Lowell Observatory and for the enjoyment of all who live in and travel to the area," said Naval Observatory Flagstaff Station Director Dr. Jeff Pier.
To get involved with our Telescope Education Project and further the educational opportunities for CCC students, contact us at (928) 226-4374. Further information:
Telescope Education Project Information
Telescope Education Project Information 2
Telescope Education Project Budget
Engineer Renderings of Basic Telescope Housing
Engineer Renderings of Telescope and Classroom