MOREAU — A new telescope will soon bring the stars closer to campers at Moreau Lake State Park.
The park used proceeds from the sale of firewood and ice to buy a digital telescope and build an observatory deck on the beach.
Now volunteers are learning to use the software that connects the telescope to a laptop, so they can control it
The images will be projected onto a giant, inflatable screen on the beach twice a month.
“Then people can see without lining up,” said park supervisor Alan Trepper. “Volunteer astronomers will be there to explain what we’re looking at.”
He’s hoping to run stargazing programs twice a month, beginning later this summer. One event would take place after the monthly full moon hike, while another would be when the moon is new. That’s when the moon is least bright, which allows viewers to better see other objects in the sky.
Trepper isn’t certain when the telescope will be operational. He is hoping for July. It will be sometime this summer, he said.
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“We will post it, up on our Facebook, when it’s ready to go,” he added.
He’s envisioning visitors bringing folding chairs or blankets to sit on the beach and watch, perhaps from 9 to 11 p.m.
“I know some people want to go later. That’s kind of our dilemma,” he said. “We want to be there later, but we have to be there early in the morning.”
Only park staff and the volunteer astronomers will control the telescope. The observatory deck will be kept locked when not being used.
If it is popular, the park could expand the deck in the future. Right now, the deck slides open to allow 180 degrees of viewing. A platform could extend that view to 360 degrees because the dome lid could be completely removed, he said.
The entire system cost about $5,000.