A grant from the Oakley Foundation will allow astronomy students at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology a 24-hour-a-day all-access pass to the wonders of the cosmos.
The $141,634 endowment will be used to construct a telescope in the Blue Mountains region of New South Wales, Australia, capable of recording images that can be downloaded through the internet. Students and researchers at the school will control the telescope, dubbed the Oakley Southern Sky Observatory, from the school's campus.
"Rose-Hulman students have a tremendous interest in astronomy and a real love affair with technology," Richard Ditteon, a professor of physics and optical engineering at Rose, said in a press release. "The Australian observatory satisfies both."
Ditteon said he expects the observatory to be ready for use by late 2006. Because of the time difference, the telescope will afford students the ability to view a night sky through a telescope in Australia or Terre Haute. The facility will be used by students enrolled in an introductory astronomy course, members of the school's astronomical society and university-based researchers. Dale Long, Director of News Services at Rose-Hulman, said the observatory will significantly enhance the school's burgeoning astronomy program.
"(When the telescope is finished), our students will be able to be linked to the night sky in Australia during the daytime hours," he said. "Now, the kids are having to stay up to the wee hours of the morning to see these things."
The Oakley Southern Sky Observatory is not the first technological improvement on the Rose-Hulman campus facilitated by grant money from the Oakley Foundation. In 1999, the foundation donated $500,000 to the school to construct the Oakley Observatory, a state-of-the-art facility that provided students and faculty with unique research opportunities and prompted school officials to initiate a minor in astronomy.
"The Oakley Observatory is already the envy of other colleges, and the addition of the Australian observatory moves us even further ahead," Ditteon said.