The Little Thompson Observatory or LTO is located in Berthoud High School in Berthoud, CO. This observatory is unique because it is built and operated solely by volunteers and donations from the public. The goal of the LTO is to help educate the public about astronomy.
Everyone is welcome to come out on public access nights which happen the 3rd Thursday of each month except July. These presentations are free and include a speaker as well as an opportunity to look at the night sky using the observatory’s telescope.
Currently, the LTO is using a 1966 Tinsley Company telescope. This 18 inch telescope was purchased by an educational grant. The observatory has recently acquired a 24 inch telescope from Mount Wilson Observatory in California. This telescope was originally built to support the NASA Apollo missions. Because of the new telescope, the observatory is enlarging the rotating dome and creating a larger seating area for audiences. Volunteers are needed to help with this large project. Contact the observatory at 970-613-7793 for more information.
The presentation for Public Star Night on May 20th is from 7pm to 11 pm. The guest speaker will be Whitney, a senior consultant for the Mid-Continent Research for Education and Learning or McREL. The title of the presentation will be “A Whole New World: Dawn at Asteroid Vesta.” Come to learn about the voyage of NASA’s Dawn spacecraft which is preparing to intercept asteroid Vesta sometime in the summer of 2011. No reservations are needed for this free presentation. After the presentation, visitors are welcome to take a look at the night sky through the observatory’s telescope. Volunteers will also be on hand to answer questions.
In April, the guest speaker for Public Star Night was Bob Arentz from Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corporation. His talk was on “Searching for Near-Earth Objects”. Our solar system has about a million NEO’s or fragments of asteroids. The purpose of the talk was to discuss the objects, the damage that they can do when they hit the earth, and the plans that have been made to find such objects and then to prevent them from hitting the earth.
Plans for the June Public Star Night have not yet been announced.
For more information on The Little Thompson Observatory, or the programs that they offer, go to http://www.starkids.org or call the observatory at 970-613-7793.