Southern Utah University has partnered with Great Basin National Park to help preserve the night skies by building and operating the first research-grade telescope in a National Park. The observatory opened on August 25th as part of the National Park Service Centennial celebration.
The Great Basin Observatory will enable world-class fundamental research, create opportunities for students, and bring the beauty of the cosmos to people everywhere while protecting and preserving the night skies as a park resource.
According to Dr. Cameron Pace, a physics professor at SUU, university staff and students will have remote access to the telescope for research projects. SUU will also support the administration and operation of the telescope as well as helping with facility maintenance.
“People live in areas where the brightest stars are just helicopters,” said Pace “The observatory will help educate the value of dark skies.”
“Usually telescopes are built for advanced research. For that very reason many undergraduates don’t get to use one,” said Dr. Rhett Zollinger, a physics professor at SUU. “The opportunity is here and students will be able to create their own interests and projects.”
Now that the observatory is open, Great Basin National Park is connecting with visitors, developing tools for K-12 teachers and encouraging the next generation of scientists and stargazers.
The observatory is a collaborative project between the Great Basin National Park Foundation and four partner universities: Southern Utah University; University of Nevada, Reno; Western Nevada College; and Concordia University.