On Order: A Glimpse of the Heavens From OCHS
A project to build an observatory at Ocean City High School is taking shape with the ordering of equipment.
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Plans show the interior design of an observatory that will be constructed on land between Ocean City High School and Carey Stadium.
If all goes according to plan, Ocean City students, residents and visitors could view the night sky through the lenses of a university-style observatory by spring.
The public school district and the private Ocean City Education Foundation are working together to build an observatory on a small triangle of land between Ocean City High School and Carey Stadium, just off the beach block of Fifth Street.
Parts of the proposed facility, including the dome, were ordered last week and are expected to be delivered within a few months.
"We are optimistic that it can be up and running this spring," said Matt Oster, a high school science teacher who has been working to bring the observatory to the school for almost six years.
The project is being funded entirely through private donations, according to Dave Allegretto, president of the Education Foundation, a citizen group that raises money to provide extra educational opportunities for Ocean City School District students and the community.
Allegretto said the Foundation is working in partnership with the Ocean City Free Public Library, which donated $25,000 toward the estimated total cost of $50,000 for the project.
The observatory will not only bring stars, planets and celestial events into closer focus, but it will help students, staff and community connect, Oster said.
The facility will be open for the public to view astronomical events, for astronomy clubs and visiting schools, during special celebrations like First Night and even for a NASA satellite program.
A remote feed that could transmit images from the observatory for public viewing at the library auditorium is also planned, according to Allegretto.
Within the school, the observatory could apply to various studies in science, math, engineering and audio-visual technology.
"It will be utilized by the public and our K-12 school district with a plethora of labs and observations," Oster said.
The observatory dome will be able to rotate 360 degrees and accommodate about a half-dozen people at a time. With less light pollution and drier air, the nights of winter will typically provide the best viewing.
Because the proposed site for the observatory is on city-owned land, City Council will have to take action to approve the use under Green Acres requirements. City Council President Michael Allegretto said he anticipates that a resolution will be part of an upcoming agenda, but he said it is not scheduled for the next meeting on Nov. 10.
Ocean City High School
, Ocean City NJ
, and observatory