Sundial -- 'a fine addition' at observatory

(The following is an open letter to Greater New Milford-area residents from the volunteers at the McCarthy Observatory on the campus of New Milford High School.)

Dear friends of the McCarthy Observatory:

The volunteers of your observatory are most proud to announce the plans for the Kathleen Fischer Sundial, now under construction, with plans for a June 9 dedication.

We are very excited about this instrument. It has been in design for more than two years, with a focus on it being both a precision timekeeping instrument and a fine sculpture.

A quick overview:

The sundial is nine feet tall and is an "equatorial" sundial, with an exact size bronze replica of Galileo's first telescope integrated into the gnomon.

The shadow arms span five feet, and the engraved time scale is adjustable so both "clock time" and "sun time" can be determined. The time scale contains both standard time and daylight savings time engraving.

It is all fashioned out of stainless steel, and the design is all based on geometric curves. The sundial will rest on a one-ton granite disk, in the center of the "outdoor classroom" in Galileo's Garden at the observatory. A multi-color granite compass rose will surround the granite disk.

The sundial is named for Kathy Fischer, the science teacher who inspired us to become engaged in supporting science education and was instrumental in all our programs before passing away in 2010.

There would be no McCarthy Observatory without her leadership and inspiration to all of us. She and her husband, Larry, had loved the sundial idea because of all the teaching possibilities it would provide.

They decided to help in the sundial project, and donated $5,000 as a challenge donation for the construction cost.

The total cost will be $10,500. We have raised $2,000 in matching funds, and are now kicking off a fundraising program for the remaining $3,500.

All of you have been so generous in support of our expansion projects, and we are hoping you will be able to help in the funding of this wonderful addition.

Donations of any size would help, and can be mailed to the McCarthy Observatory, P.O. Box 1144, New Milford, CT 06776.

We hope to see you at our Second Saturday Stars or visiting as groups during this fine spring weather.

The volunteers

McCarthy Observatory

New Milford