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Tuesday, October 20 2020 @ 04:07 am EDT

AOAS Recipient of Anonymous Donation

General NewsOn July 9th, an anonymous donor presented AOAS with nearly $4,000 worth of astronomical equipment. Here is a run-down on what was donated and how we expect to use this new equipment. Since AOAS is a registered 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization, every penny of this donation will be that much less that our donor will have to pay on his taxes next year!

Donated items - Here are displayed most of the items which were donated to AOAS on July 9, 2005. Items include...A Meade ETX 125EC w/UHTC telescope with #497 AutoStar controller on a #884 Deluxe Field Tripod...a hard case for the ETX...an LPI CCD camera...a DSI CCD camera...eyepieces, barlow lens, tele-extenders, everything needed for astrophotography...a Canon EOS Rebel Ti SLR camera with a 28mm to 90mm zoom lens and another 500mm mirror lens, along with all the accessories needed to use this camera with the telescope...a pair of Orion 12X50 binoculars...and a Dell Inspiron 1000 laptop computer (with a Dell 720 printer, not shown) with all the hardware and software needed to control the telescope and image with either of the CCD cameras...and finally a Logitech webcam (not shown). ALL of this equipment is in NEW condition!
When I first received an email about a donation on the afternoon of our July "Stars in the Parks" event at Carol Ann Cross Park on July 9th, I misread the message and thought I'd seen an amount of $400 in equipment that a man wanted to donate to AOAS. I arrived at the park and was helping another member set up his telescope for that night's observing when I saw our donor pull up beside my car. I joined him there and we began to unload things from his car into mine. After I saw the ETX telescope I said to him, "This is more than a $400 donation," to which he replied, "I know, it's more like $4,000."

I was absolutely stunned. I helped him finish loading the rest of the equipment into my car and he left, but not before asking that I never mention his name to the public, to which I agreed. As I went back to our group of members that were still assembling their telescopes for the star party, I still couldn't quite grasp what had just happened. Suddenly, out of nowhere, we now had a COMPLETE astrophotography and CCD imaging system along with a laptop computer for remote operation of all the equipment. All I could do at first was wander around with my mouth open muttering, "We just got a new telescope. We just got a new computer, and a new SLR camera, and TWO new CCD cameras", over and over again like the village idiot. It was all just a little too much and it simply wouldn't register in my brain.

Click "read more" for the rest of this story and/or to donate

Now it's been almost a month since we received this donation. I've spent many hours trying to learn how to use everything associated with this donation, but with little success thus far. These items are all designed to work together to give a very professional-level ability to image deep-sky objects as well as lunar and planetary objects. But there are many, many things that must be fully understood in order to expect them to all work together. I must admit that my learning curve (so far) has been relatively flat, but it's getting better. The thing I most want to use all this equipment for is to be able to take it with me to area grade schools when I do presentations. I want to be able to set these things up and show the kids I speak to just what's possible with today's cutting-edge technology. I want to be able to punch in the right commands, and watch along with the kids as this telescope moves to the object I've selected, centers itself, and reveals an image of, say, the moon and its cratered surface right on the computer screen in real time for everyone to see at once.

These are the types of things that amateur astronomers are able to do today, assuming you have the financial ability to buy the right equipment. This generous donation allows us to eventually make such school presentations a simple thing. Our future plans are to make this same type of process available through our research-grade 14" Celestron CGE1400 telescope, which was itself a more than $6,000 donated item earlier this year.* That program will work towards the future capability of beaming a live image of ANY astronomical object back to the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith, where that image will then be made available to any area schools for their use and enjoyment. The technology is here, and our only drawback to making these desires a reality today, is money.

Should any area businesses or individuals have the desire to help us achieve our goals in part or in whole, they may assure themselves that we will utilize their monetary or material donations to the best of our abilities, for the good of not only our club members, but for the enjoyment of the public as well. Every penny donated to AOAS stays in the area and benefits area residents. What can you do to help us? We can use all the help we can get.

Donations of money or construction materials may be offered to AOAS through our web site at www.aoas.org, or through our Coleman Observatory facility located 8 miles NW of Van Buren. Simply start the process with an email to caretaker@aoas.org, or a phone call to the observatory at (479) 474-4740 (this # no longer in service). Donate to AOAS and pay the IRS LESS!

*The 14" telescope was purchased and donated by Dr. Chuck Larson, our AOAS Education Director, and along with another $3,400 donation of used telescopes, books, and other equipment from Dr. Kent Alexander on August 2, 2004, we've enjoyed more than $13,500 in total donations in the last 12 months.
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