Owens visits Tupper Lake’s observatory

TUPPER LAKE – Congressman Bill Owens made a trip to Tupper Lake Thursday to check out the newly completed roll-off-roof observatory.

Adirondack Public Observatory board members showed him around and told him about the capabilities of the new facility, gave him a chance to flip the switch to roll the roof off, and let him look at solar flares on the sun through a special telescope.

About 25 people showed up to the event, including town Supervisor Roger Amell, village Mayor Paul Maroun, school district Superintendent Seth McGowan and a group of Wild Center employees, who told Owens about the natural history museum’s plans to partner with the APO to further educate people about the natural world.

Gordy Duval, a member of the APO Board of Directors and a physics and astronomy teacher at Tupper Lake High School, showed Owens and the rest of the guests a slideshow documenting the history of the APO, which formed as a nonprofit group in 2005 and has been doing educational programming ever since. The roll-off-roof observatory is the first physical presence the group has had, other than office space on Park Street.

The roll-off-roof observatory is the first step in a larger facility planned for the site, next to Little Wolf Beach, Duval explained. The APO hopes to next install a research-grade telescope, then a full planetarium.

He said the main reason the APO thought Tupper Lake was a good place to house such a facility is because the night sky over the Adirondack Park is so dark compared to the rest of the Northeast.

Then Marc Staves, APO co-founder and executive board chairman, told Owens a little about the process of building the observatory, how it works, and the telescopes the group is housing there.

Owens said APO directors invited him to visit, and he was delighted to make it.

“It’s pretty neat,” Owens told the Enterprise after seeing the observatory. “I mean, that retractable roof is very impressive, and just the idea that you can do this kind of scientific research in Tupper Lake is very impressive.”

He said he likes the idea of having the APO in Tupper Lake to encourage tourism.

“This is another, if you will, leg in the stool of creating places for people to come when they come to Tupper Lake,” Owens said. “So they have the Wild Center, they have the observatory, obviously we’ve got the lake and outdoor activities, so it gives people a more complete set of things to do, if you will. It’s also a great educational resource for the local schools.”

After seeing solar flares through a telescope, he said he would love to make it back to use the observatory at night some time.

“I would imagine looking up at the night sky would be really impressive,” Owens said.

Contact Jessica Collier at 891-2600 ext. 26 or jcollier@adirondackdailyenterprise.com.