Oil Region Astronomical Society Kicks Off New Observatory Campaign

| November 30, 2014

observatory14_bOIL CITY, Pa. – The Oil Region Astronomical Society has kicked off its fund raising campaign for a new astronomy learning center that will be focused on Venango, Clarion, and Forest counties.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have your name in lights? What about among the stars? Did you know that more than 80% of people in the world today cannot step out into their back yard, gaze at the heavens, and see the Milky Way?

Northwestern Pennsylvania is known for its wealth of outdoor recreational opportunities, including a beautiful dark nighttime sky. The Oil Region Astronomical Society has kicked off its fund raising campaign for a new astronomy learning center. The facility will be centered between Venango, Clarion, and Forest Counties, and ORAS is asking residents, businesses, and community organizations from the region to consider helping out by investing in the project.

For centuries our ancestors were inspired by the stars. Today, much of the cosmos is invisible because of excessive lighting in densely populated areas. However, in our region we continue to be blessed with a dark night sky, where children of all ages can look up and wonder about space and the universe we live in.

According to ORAS President, Tim Spuck, “At a time when our nation struggles to remain competitive in science and technology, studies have shown that astronomy can be a powerful tool to motivate children to consider careers in these fields.”

“Astronomy inspires the imagination, and it causes young learners to want to know more. That spark can lead a child to a lifelong career in a science and engineering related field, and in doing so, can help ensure the U.S. maintains a competitive edge globally.”

Over the past 20 years, the region has benefited from having a place where locals and visitors alike could enjoy the wonders of the universe; a place where kids and adults could catch a glimpse through a telescope of craters on the moon, the rings of Saturn, or distant galaxies. However, the current observatory at Two Mile Run County Park will close in January 2015. The Oil Region Astronomical Society is working to construct its new facility.

Spuck states, “An investment today to promote science and exploration in our region is an investment in our children, and in generations that will follow.”

To date, through generous donations of land, materials, labor, and cash, ORAS has secured contributions totaling $224,000.00 for the project. This means they have just $85,000.00 to go. Once completed, school and community groups and members of the public will see the splendors of the universe as never before.

The new observatory will be located in a remote area on the border of Venango and Clarion Counties, near Camp Coffman. The facility will feature a large open field, significantly darker sky and brighter stars, and a new telescope that will offer views of planets and distant galaxies that are 4000 times brighter than you can see with the naked eye.

All contributors will be recognized on the observatory’s “Wall of Stars.” The giant-sized wall mural will display the stars named after each contributor (brightest stars recognizing the larger contributions), and will serve as both an education tool for visitors and a way to recognize those who bring the observatory to life. Currently the project is in need of cash contributions (or stocks, bonds), other items of value, building materials, and people with construction expertise who are willing to contribute their time and/or equipment. ORAS is a 501c3 non-profit and contributions are tax deductible.

How can you invest in the new observatory project? Individuals, organizations, and businesses who help make the new Astronomy Learning Center a reality will be recognized on the “Wall of Stars” at the facility, as well as through the ORAS website, and through a variety of social media.

The giant wall mural will be in the form of an important astronomy teaching tool, the HR Diagram. This is one of the most fundamental teaching tools in astronomy, and is used to help explain where stars come from and how the universe changes over time. Some stars, like blue giants, are massive and can be seen over vast distances in space, but are few in number. Other stars, like our sun, are medium-sized and greenish­yellow in color. Still others (red stars) are smaller, but more numerous.

The observatory’s “Wall of Stars” is a giant 6′ x 8′ mural with individual stars named after each major contributor. When questions are asked by visitors, observatory personnel will turn to the wall­sized HR diagram, the “Wall of Stars,” and use it to explain what’s happening in space. And each time, visitors will see the names of those who helped bring the observatory to life.

Those making contributions can do so at various targeted levels, including:

Blue or Red Super Giant Level (Limited # of stars available ) – These stars are the brightest and most luminous stars in the universe, but are very few in number. Contributions of $5,000.00 or more toward the project will be recognized at this level.

Red Giant Level (Limited # of stars available) – Red giants are bright stars in their latter years. In approximately 4.5 billion years, our sun will swell up into a red giant before contracting into a white dwarf. Contributions of $2,500.00 – $4,999.00 will be recognized at this level.

Blue Star (Limited # of stars available) – Blue main sequence stars are the hottest and brightest of the main sequence stars. Contributions of $1,000.00 – $2,499.00 will be recognized at this level.

Green Star – The sun is a greenish-yellow main sequence star. Contributions of $500.00 – $999.00 will be recognized at this level.

Yellow Star – These yellow main sequence stars are slightly less massive and a bit cooler than the sun. Contributions of $100.00 – $499.00 will be recognized at this level.

Orange Star – At a distance of just 4.3 light years away, Alpha Centauri B is an orange main sequence star, and one of the closest stars to the sun. Contributions of $50.00 – $99.00 will be recognized at this level.

Red Star – These are the smallest and most numerous of the main sequence stars in the galaxy. Contributions of $20.00 – $49.00 will be recognized at this level.

Smaller contributions are very much appreciated as well. Contributions less than $20.00 will be recognized on the list of contributors on the observatory’s website.

Contributions to the project can be made on line via credit card at http://www.oras.org, or by mail with a check made payable to ORAS ‐Observatory Fund, and mailed to:

ORAS – Observatory Fund, P.O. Box 1535, Oil City, PA 16301

Individuals who have questions, or would like additional information, or are interested in contributing items of value (e.g., stocks or bonds, property, jewelry, etc.), building materials, or labor or equipment, may contact ORAS president Tim Spuck at timspuck@gmail.com or 814-758-9527.

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