A Raymore-Peculiar High School science teacher got a nice gift for his students just in time for the holidays.
StarGarden Foundation, a non-profit organization based in Warrensburg, Mo., has donated a 25-inch Dobsonian telescope to astronomy teacher Darrick Gray and the high school.
“It’s a really big light-gathering instrument used in astronomy to project images onto the eye,” Gray said. “We’re going to see the edge of where mankind can see.”
The telescope, built in 1992, is about 2 feet wide and more than 9 feet tall when assembled. Its main mirror is 25 inches in diameter.
“This is going to be sick,” Gray said, using a term that means “sickeningly cool.”
The telescope’s design allows it to be disassembled into a few components which can be stored in a closet or transported much like a wheelbarrow.
“Because this will provide more magnification, and it gathers more light because of the size of the mirror, it literally gathers more light than the human eye can,” Gray said. “Without any real trouble, we should be able to see 12 billion light-years away.”
The instrument is convenient for those who don’t have access to a large observatory, but it has a lot of power for viewing.
The telescope is actually very old technology, but still effective.
“This goes back to Galileo where he would polish a surface in hopes that he could get a reflective surface ... that would replace the use of lenses,” Gray said. “This is very effective. The magic doesn’t happen with the container. The magic happens with just the mirrors and if you got glass, you’re fine.”
StarGarden received the telescope from a local contributor who wanted to see the equipment go to good use.
“They offered this to their local high school and unfortunately, they don’t have an astronomy program,” Gray said. “One of their principals is a former teacher from here. He called me and made the connection.”
Gray teaches an astronomy class for high school juniors and seniors each spring.
Purchasing the telescope would have cost $15,000 to $16,000.
“We could never buy this on our budget,” Gray said. “Even the really fancy ones, with the bells and whistles, they still boil down to this. As long as you know what to look at, or where to look at in the sky, this will do anything the big, bells-and-whistle ones will do.”