Stamford Museum and Nature Center moves historic telescope

The Stamford Museum & Nature Center (SM&NC) marked a milestone in its history this week by taking the first step to move its historic Gregory-Maksutov Telescope to the Astronomical Lyceum, a historic telescope museum in Magdalena, New Mexico. Stamford Mayor Caroline Simmons joined SM&NC officials on Tuesday to witness the lifting of the telescope through the dome of the current observatory.

Stamford-based Frank Compo & Sons Inc., the same family business that hoisted and lowered the telescope through the dome in 1965 – returned to extract and relocate it under the expert guidance of engineer and astronomer John W Briggs and the Distinguished Scientific Advisor to the SM&NC Council.

“Our priority is the safe transportation of this historic Maksutov Telescope to New Mexico, where we will benefit from an excellent partnership with the Lyceum,” said SM&NC CEO Melissa H. Mulrooney. “Not only will they be able to keep the telescope in good working order, but we will benefit from being able to look at the dark sky, with a different vision than we could ever see here in Connecticut.”

The telescope move also paves the way for the demolition of the museum’s disused observatory, followed by all necessary site works, and the construction of a new planetarium and astronomy center, the second major venue to be added to the SM&NC’s 118-acre campus in the past five years.

At nearly 10,000 square feet, the new Planetarium and Astronomy Center will combine and expand the SM&NC Observatory with a full planetarium. The facility will consist of three levels including a 100-seat planetarium auditorium on the first floor featuring state-of-the-art technology, a Science Lab classroom on the second floor, and a third level including housing for a 22-inch lunar telescope. , a solar telescope and a retractable roof to a public observation deck. In addition to being a cultural attraction, the facility will serve as a center for STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and astronomy and math) education, supporting Connecticut State Standards and New Generation Science Standards.

The Planetarium and Astronomy Center and the Knobloch Family Farm, which opened in November 2018, are part of SM&NC’s visionary master plan to build the future capabilities of the museum’s educational and public spaces.

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