HUT Observatory

HUT Observatory Brings Historic Telescope to Eagle Valley

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A massive observatory telescope built over a century ago for Parsons College of Fairfield, Iowa, has been saved from potential demolition in El Paso, Texas, by John Briggs of HUT Observatory.  The 9-inch refracting telescope was made by the firm of Lohmann Brothers of Greenville, Ohio, and for decades it served the students of Parsons College.  Standing some 16 feet tall when pointed upwards, and with its cast-iron pillar, weighing about 2,000 pounds, the telescope can track celestial objects driven by a gravity-powered clock mechanism protected under glass doors.  Famous for its telescopes, the Lohmann firm originally built horse-pulled carriages.  After Parsons College closed, the instrument was refurbished by Dr. Ron Madison of the Antique Telescope Society.  Madison transferred it to the Insights Science Museum of El Paso, Texas.  But plans for a new baseball stadium are forcing the tear-down of the Museum facility, and most of the exhibits are being put into storage.  “I’m so grateful the telescope can go to a good new home.  We weren’t sure anyone could even disassemble it safely.” said Jerry Jaurrieta, Floor Manager of Insights Museum, when Briggs visited in January 2013 to move the instrument.  Discussion about the telescope had begun over a year ago with Roundup River Ranch, a medically supported camp for children with chronic and life-threatening illnesses operating near Dotsero, Colorado.  The instrument is ideally suited for showing youngsters the wonders of the Moon, planets, and star clusters, including Saturn’s rings and the cloud belts of Jupiter.  The telescope will be stored at the camp while plans are made for an appropriate observatory structure.  Meanwhile, the camp is requesting volunteers including students from nearby Eagle Valley High School.  Thus, it’s easy to imagine how the project can become an exciting collaboration for many people.