A Brief History of the evolution of your Observatory
The idea of building an observatory came from Monty Robson in 1998, when he wanted to contribute what he could to exciting students to science in order to improve critical thinking skills of tomorrow’s citizens. That wonderful notion has been the anchor of all we have done, and all we focus on as a volunteer team.
A small team joined Monty in 1998 and 1999, and we gained support in the community for the idea, and had many civic leaders helping us get approvals as we proceeded. We began planning the facility, fundraising in earnest, and site selection during 1999. In 2000 the observatory became the “Millennium Project” of New Milford, and groundbreaking occurred in May of that year. The facility became operational in September of 2000, and was dedicated on December 2, 2000, just 31 months after the team began forming.
Because of the location, it was not feasible to have water and a restroom during this phase, so the team began planning for expansion as the number of visitors grew. In 2005 Phase 2 was implemented. as we became an official non-profit, selected a Board of Directors and developed a documented relationship with the School Board and the town of New Milford. In 2006 we built a significant facility expansion, including water, a restroom, a sewage management system and sewer line, a storage room, and a 1,000 square foot outdoor observing deck with four telescope piers that included power and signal cables for each pier.
In 2009, the volunteers designed an implemented a “true-scale” solar system that traverses six miles of New Milford, with twelve beautiful solar system objects all placed at proper distances from the six-foot diameter sun located at the observatory, and all on publicly-accessible property.
In 2010 we began construction of “Galileo’s Garden” which is a multi-year project involving a large sundial, many plantings, and garden sculptures. It is described elsewhere on this site.
Remarkably, the facility was designed by volunteers, primarily built by volunteers, and has been operated since its dedication entirely by volunteers. Over 90% of all funding has come from private and Foundation donations.