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Log, Dec 16, 2005

4 people. After the meeting of the Frosty Drew Memorial Fund Inc., I opened the Observatory. A father and two young daughters were my only visitors. We looked at a number of old favorites and of course the Moon which was as bright as the one Clement Moore saw in a Visit from Saint Nick - you know "the Moon on the breast of the new fallen snow gave luster of daylight to objects below". It was truly a beacon and managed to wash out anything dimmer than magnitude 2.

Chances are pretty good that the Friday before Christmas will be a virtual washout no matter what the weather. I expect to be unable to open. I do expect to open the Friday before New Years, weather permitting. Watch for the Dome at frostydrew.org for the question mark or the closed slashed circle.

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The Memorial Fund - the parent organization of which the Observatory and the Nature Center are the major components held it regular monthly meeting tonight prior to the opening time scheduled for the Observatory. One piece of business was of major importance to the Observatory, the Town of Charlestown has approved our plans to build the Sky Theater. Without this approval we could not go forward but now we have the opportunity.

We have architectural drawings of the Sky Theater, diagrams of under water pipes and fields, and we have a builder for the addition.

We have done some additional work making purchases to complete the electronic connections between the telescope in the dome and the projector (which we have purchased) in the Sky Theater. Initial connections have been successful and test with the projector make us confident that we will be able to produce an quality image on the screen/ceiling of the new Sky Theater. Projections on a sloped roof (in a cathedral ceiling in my home) show that the projection is very satisfying.

However we are not yet ready for the ground breaking for the Sky Theater. Two major hurdles must to be overcome before we are really ready to continue. (1) We need to raise the remaining money to complete the Sky Theater. (2) We must be able to staff Sky Theater and Observatory programs.

To date we have collected about a quarter of the required funds to build the Sky Theater. We have several potential donors in mind who we feel will be the source of the remaining funds. We have not approached them formally before since we needed town approval. Some of these funds will have to be spent whether we proceed with the full Sky Theater or not. The existing Nature Center is in need of repairs. We will not break ground for the extension until we have all the money in hand.

Equally important, we need to be able to staff programs. A few years ago, we had built up what we thought would be the basis of an adequate volunteer staff. We had a number of people in training on the telescope, others were available to host star hopping sessions, and support activities. Unfortunately we have lost most of these people for a variety of reasons. Jobs move and provide various conflicts. Members develop new time demands. After a period, volunteering can be too demanding. And as a personal note, an extremely severe illness has limited my own activity.

We continue to look for volunteers. You might think that knowledge of the stars, physics and technology would be the primary attributes we are looking for in our staff. Actually we want someone who is comfortable with the public and who can be relied upon to show up when scheduled. Friendly openness speaks for itself. We are dealing with people who largely know little or nothing about the stars. A volunteer must be outgoing to make connections with our visitors. However friendly a person might be, we need to know they will show up when they say they will come.

We can train volunteers to run the equipment. It really isn't that tricky. We can share our knowledge of the heavens above. Most of us picked up our patter from the patter we heard from another member. If you are the type of person who would like to volunteer, if you are comfortable with strangers and if you can reliably commit to a certain number of Friday evenings, we are waiting for you with open arms.

-Les Coleman

Leslie Coleman
Author:
Leslie Coleman
Entry Date:
Dec 16, 2005
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Leslie Coleman's Log
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