Solar system sees the light at observatory
A 6-foot-diameter replica "sun," which will sit on a 5-foot tube, is expected to arrive on the McCarthy Observatory property at New Milford High School in coming days.
A planned display is part of a scale model of the solar system being created as part of a multi-faceted project meant to honor the International Year of Astronomy and the discoveries Galileo made with his telescope.
Leaders of the McCarthy Observatory in New Milford are in a final push to raise money for what is expected to be a lasting tribute to Galileo's astronomical discovery of 400 years ago.
The all-volunteer organization started a fundraising campaign last year for the project. In addition, observatory leaders wanted to inspire a town-wide exploration of science.
To date, about $22,000 has been raised by the campaign. At least 400 individual donations of $40 each are needed to reach goal.
The centerpiece of the project, which is expected to cost about $33,000, is a scale model of the solar system.
Bronze planets will be erected atop steel pyramids at schools and public places across town. The distances between them will reflect how the planets are aligned in space.
The project will also include Galileo's Garden, adjacent to the observatory sky deck. It will have a working sundial designed with a replica of Galileo's telescope, pointed to the North Star.
Observatory leaders will begin building a terraced, landscaped garden to encompass the artistic pieces.
"We're working as hard and as fast as we can," said Monty Robson, observatory founder and president.
He hopes the solar system model sculptures, each with a sign to describe the planet, will be installed this fall. The whole purpose of the endeavor is to inspire awe and wonder about the universe, he said.
"It's really going to be exciting," said Robert McCarthy, a fellow founder and member of the volunteer board. "People don't realize the caliber of science that goes on down at the observatory, and it is a very impressive thing."
The goal would be met with 400 donations of $40 each. Send checks to McCarthy Observatory, P.O. Box 1144, New Milford, CT 06776.