Astronomy


Raising the Observatory dome, 1960.
The first astronomy classes were held in 1941 under the auspices of the Stamford Astronomers the group that preceded the Fairfield County Astronomical Society formed in 1954. To view the nighttime sky, members would set up their telescope on the steps of the old Town Hall. Later, a member had a shed built on a hill on her property where people could view the sky through the telescope.

In Courtland Park, a planetarium was constructed in one end of the lecture hall by building a dome which could be raised and lowered for planetarium shows. One of the first Spitz projectors was installed and programs and special effects were created by William Dutton.

After moving to Scofieldtown Road, an open courtyard of the main building was enclosed to create a planetarium which was completed in 1956. A new Spitz projector was purchased in 1957. The Edgerton Memorial Planetarium was dedicated on January 19, 1958, in memory of Malcolm and Edna Edgerton, who had been outstanding supporters of the Museum since its inception.

With keen interest in astronomy for a property well-suited to study the sky, Mr. & Mrs. Frank Altschul contributed the funds to construct an observatory on the property, which was completed in 1960. Materials for the twenty-two inch research telescope were donated by area corporations, and the telescope was built by volunteers and the Fairfield County Astronomical Society. The largest telescope in the East available for public viewing was dedicated on June 13, 1965.

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