As a result of the gift of a Celestron 14 inch telescope by Mundy Wilson, the funding of the Horizons Observatory by the Spitzer family and the local community, and the sustained effort of a handful of volunteers, the vision of creating a small astronomical observatory to serve local schools and the general public became reality in the summer of 2004. All past and present funding and labor has been donated either by private foundations or individuals. No tax money is used.
Since its founding, a number of endeavors have established the Horizons Observatory as a center for science education in the Woodstock area. These include:
• Horizons Observatory Public Stargazing Nights: Ongoing stargazing events are hosted by the Horizons Observatory throughout the year. Simply join the Horizons Observatory Blog (on this web site) to be notified of future events. Knowledgeable astronomy guides are on hand to help visitors view and better understand planets, stars, constellations, nebulae, star clusters, and galaxies.
• Astrophotography and Astronomy Research: Since 2004 over one hundred stunning photographs of galaxies, nebulae, planets, and globular clusters using Horizons Observatory equipment have been created by students under the guidance of volunteer docents. As well, students conduct research on the celestial object they photograph and often present their findings in the form research papers and PowerPoint presentations to the school and community.
• A Cosmic Sense of Place: Partnering with the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park and sixth grade teachers throughout Windsor Central Supervisory Union, Horizons Observatory plays a significant role in implementing the Cosmic Sense of Place program. This experience provides students with the resources and knowledge to photograph and research microscopic organisms, human scale “nature photgraphs”, and a variety of astronomical objects. All astronomy photography is done at the Observatory under the guidance of Horizons docents.
• The purchase of a SolarMax solar telescope (donated by Chippers), an eight inch GPS telescope, and binoculars in the years following observatory construction.
• The addition of an astronomy course to the Woodstock Union High School course offerings.
• Granite State College Observational Astronomy Course (Science 511). The observatory is used by Granite State college students for fulfilling the observational requirements for this course.
• A Horizons Observatory web site (http://www.horizonsobservatory.org/) provides information regarding Horizons mission, upcoming programs, hour-by-hour observing conditions, and a gallery exhibiting all astrophotographs since the observatory’s founding.
Certainly these and other accomplishments are the result of a generous outpouring of volunteer work and financial support. The success of our school programs and significant increase in attendance at our seasonal public star gazing evenings is a testament these efforts.