The 2015 Middlebury College Observatory Upgrades Program
Middlebury College Observatory has a well-equipped and ideally-located observatory that serves curricular, research, and outreach purposes for both the College as well as the community at large. Built in 2000 and 2001, the current Observatory has benefitted from both modern equipment and an optimal location perched atop McCardell Bicentennial Hall. These have served the Observatory and the College well and have helped develop the Observatory into a vibrant, interdisciplinary College resource. The Observatory has not only supported students in a variety of Physics courses over the years, for both majors and non-majors (courses 155, 165, 261, 500, 704, 705, and 1105), but has also supported other curricular programs and welcomed thousands of members of the College community, local school children, and the public.
However, telescope and instrument technologies have advanced considerably in the last 15 years and the Observatory has necessarily been exposed to the elements while pursuing its mission. We have implemented a set of upgrades that have transformed the Observatory, and especially its 24” telescope, taking advantage of technological and engineering developments over the last decade and a half, replacing old, outdated, worn, and underperforming components, and preparing for the adoption of new observing modes. These upgrades have substantially increased telescope use and observing time. The upgrades program positions Middlebury College Observatory as a model college observatory that will better educate and connect students and the surrounding community to the Universe under dark Vermont skies.