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Telescope completes Herty Hall expansion

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May 25, 2012

Faraway galaxies, stars and planets come to life through the viewer of a new 24-inch research telescope atop Georgia College’s Herty Hall.

The snare drum-shaped observatory telescope erected in Herty Hall’s 15-foot-high, corrugated aluminum dome earlier this month completed the science building’s $3.4 million, 17,000-square-foot expansion.

“This telescope will not only allow students more observation and research opportunities,” said Dr. Donovan Domingue, professor of physics and astronomy at Georgia College and telescope facilitator, “but also will provide sky viewing for our local community.”

As powerful as many telescopes along the East Coast, the 300-pound telescope can zoom to planets and deep-sky objects like star clusters and cosmic clouds. The high-powered telescope gathers nearly six times the amount of light as the previous 10-inch model located on Herty Hall’s outside rooftop.

Chemistry professor Dr. Doug Pohl donated more than $100,000 to help Georgia College purchase the observatory telescope.

“The telescope will provide a positive outreach into the community for science,” Pohl said. “I hope it will interest more young people to develop a love of science.”

Telescope manufacturer PlaneWave Instruments of California used a crane to lift the telescope above the Herty Hall roofline and lower it into the observatory dome.

Donnie Beasley, university project manager, supervised the telescope installation and Herty Hall expansion process from beginning to end.

“The telescope puts the cap on the entire project,” said Beasley. “Students, faculty, staff and our community will see a huge difference in Herty Hall accommodations.”

The Herty Hall expansion project broke ground November 2009. Students, faculty and staff moved into the space during summer 2011.

The project added new science laboratories, classrooms and offices for biology, environmental science, chemistry, physics and astronomy departments.

The expansion process also included a 21-foot-by-55-foot rooftop greenhouse located on the west side of Herty Hall.

The telescope neighbors the rooftop greenhouse on the fourth floor of the science building.

“It’s exciting to have the telescope installed and ready for use,” said Domingue. “Now the public and our campus can search for asteroids and galaxies like never before.”

ABOUT GEORGIA COLLEGE: Georgia College, the state’s designated Public Liberal Arts University, combines the educational experience expected at esteemed private liberal arts colleges with the affordability of public higher education. Its four colleges – arts and sciences, business, education and health sciences – provide 6,600 undergraduate and graduate students with an exceptional learning environment that extends beyond the classroom, with hands-on involvement with faculty research, community service, study abroad and myriad internships.

Founded in 1889, Georgia College boasts one of the most beautiful campuses in the nation with Corinthian columns fronting red brick buildings and wide open green spaces. Georgia College also offers graduate education at the historic Jefferson building in downtown Macon, at Robins Air Force Base and online.

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