Almost all of the major equipment in the Oakley Observatory (telescopes, telescope mounts, CCD cameras, computer, etc.) have been purchased with funds donated to the astronomy program at Rose-Hulman. In particular, the Oakley Foundation of Terre Haute has been very generous and their support made possible the current observatory. Rose-Hulman provides the observatory with a modest operating budget, but this money is not sufficient for replacing or upgrading older equipment. Both hardware and software companies are constantly improving their products. It is very important to the continued operation of the observatory that our equipment does not become obsolete.
The mounts that point and track most of our telescopes were state-of-the-art when they were first purchased. But now they have been superseded by a newer model that is faster at slewing the telescope, more accurate in pointing, can carry larger telescopes and more equipment, and allows routing all of the cables through the mount. We have one of the new mounts and it is indeed far superior to the older mounts. Even more important is the fact that replacement parts are no longer available for the old mounts. The next time a mount has an electrical problem, we will simply be without a mount. One of our mounts already has a partial electrical system failure and can no longer be operated via a serial connections. We can operate this mount with a parallel connection, but not while using a CCD camera. In addition, two of our telescopes use an even older style of mount that is not adequate for CCD camera use at all. We desperately need donations toward new mounts. Each new mount costs $10,000.
We will soon need to replace the computers that control the mounts and allow remote operations of the telescopes as well as the computers that we use to process images and analyze the data. The computers that we need, must have fast processors, lots of RAM and large hard drives. Replacements will cost approximately $2000 each.
Also, there are pieces of equipment that we do not have yet that would enhance our observatory such as a stellar spectrometer. ($4000)
Long term, the best way to insure the continued operation of the observatory is by building an endowment specifically for the observatory.
Donations may be made to Rose-Hulman by specifying that the money go to the astronomy program. Donations in any amount will be gratefully accepted. Major donations ($10,000 or more) will be recognized by naming one of our telescopes for the donor. One of our largest and most consistent donors, Gene Glass of the class of 1949, was honored by naming an asteroid (32564 Glass) for him.
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