Saturn's missing from 'solar system'
Published 7:15 pm, Wednesday, September 7, 2011
After nearly a year without incident, a planet has again been stolen from the McCarthy Observatory's six-mile wide, scale-model solar system in New Milford.
The model of Saturn, which was on display at Harrybrooke Park, was reported missing Aug. 31 at 10:27 a.m., New Milford police said.
Observatory officials said Wednesday it had not yet been found.
The model solar system has been the subject of vandalism and theft since it was installed in November 2009. Within a year, vandals had stolen or damaged planets and other space-related exhibit pieces four times.
"It's continuing to be troublesome to us," said Bob Lambert, solar system project coordinator and a McCarthy Observatory member.
"I thought Saturn was pretty safe at Harrybrooke Park," he said. "There's usually a lot of people at the park and it closes at dusk."
The $25,000 solar system model has attracted thousands of people to travel around town to view it. The planet and space sculptures are housed at all six of the district's schools as well as several other public places.
The first planet theft occurred five days after observatory leaders unveiled the scale model solar system, which includes a 6-foot-diameter sun mounted on the observatory grounds at New Milford High School along Route 7.
In that case, a tennis-ball sized model of Uranus was taken from Sarah Noble Intermediate School on Sunny Valley Road. The model reappeared a couple of months later when a local woman found the orb in her front yard.
The New Milford Library's Neptune sculpture was taken in October, 2009. It was later replaced with a wooden model.
The space probe had been broken by vandals a few months earlier, but the pieces were recovered and it had been rebuilt by designer Donald Ross.