Public Observatory Network

Mission: Working through Southern Rockies Education Centers, a non-profit organization to build, operate, and manage a dedicated and coordinated Public Observatory Network, utilizing bright- object observational astronomy as a gateway to advancing science literacy within the general public.

Observatory Network Features
• Standard model for observatory design, operations, and public outreach
• Locate in dense population urban areas for max exposure and easy public access; no remote dark sky sites are needed.
• Lunar/planetary specialization (high “wow” impact for the public)
• Deploy latest real-time imaging and on-the-fly processing technologies
• Interior displays emphasize scientific method of understanding nature
• Static and mobile exhibits; updates with latest space missions, scientific discoveries, etc.
• Gift shop with careful and appropriate educational selections (not silly toys)

 

Funding and Partners
• Municipality supplies the land, utilities, maintenance, and security (no cash up front, and relatively low recurring costs).
• Local astronomy society supplies observatory staffing.
• University/high school appointees execute educational programs (designed in collaboration with the Network Director).
• Local and national corporate sponsors supply construction & telescope costs.
• Private funding of the Network Director, who conducts: coordination, site selection and development, construction oversight, project management, staff training, and annual reporting of progress, public impact, spending, and budgets.
• Gift shop and event revenue offsets operating budget, equipment upgrades, and website maintenance and enhancements.

Education and Public Outreach
• Partner with local high school teachers & university professors for education and public outreach, and development of age-appropriate programs.
• Structured events during the year: focus on explaining how science works, not just facts. Interior displays periodically change to coordinate with current astronomical and space science events.
• Make use of free local media to promote events; partner with local astronomy societies. Interior monitors display what’s happening in real time at other Network sites, as well as at professional sites.
• Utilize and promote existing online educational resources: LCOGT, ASP, etc.

 

Schedule: First site in 24 months after initial funding is in place; one additional site approximately every 18 months thereafter.

 

Geographic coverage: Generally southern Sun Belt states that have. Ultimate goal of 6-8 observatories in the Network.

 

First urban location: New Orleans.