TUPPER LAKE - The Adirondack Public Observatory (APO), a nonprofit group planning to build an observatory in Tupper Lake, was awarded a $1,250 grant this week to help with the construction of its first building.
APO President Marc Staves said his group plans to start constructing the observatory, which is planned to be about 20-feet-by-30-feet and have a roof that rolls off to expose the night sky, in summer of 2010.
"We anticipate hosting star parties and other programs from this facility in the summer of 2010," Staves said in a press release.
The group has not yet broken ground. Members are working with an engineer and have yet to submit an application to the state Adirondack Park Agency and get it approved before they can begin construction, Staves said, which they plan to do over the next few months.
Staves said he expects the observatory to have a warm room that will house the several computers that will be required to run it, a bathroom and a main room with two to three telescopes that will be permanently mounted there. The entire roof will roll off the top of the building on a rail system.
The building is expected to cost about $85,000 to build, Staves said.
The grant was donated by an anonymous donor through the Rocky Bog Fund of the Adirondack Community Trust, a Lake Placid-based community foundation.
Most of the APO's funding has come through private donations that have ranged anywhere from $50 to $5,000, Staves said. One contributor donated $27,000 on one occasion, the largest amount the APO has received so far.
"We've been very fortunate with our contributions," Staves said. "People have been very generous with us. Unfortunately, the economy has slowed down our contributions."
Since the recession hit, Staves said the APO has seen a definite drop in donations. Members recently took stock of the drop and estimate that they are seeing about 10 to 15 percent less money in donations, coinciding with the economic downturn.
The long-term plan for the APO involves building a cluster of three buildings, including the first observatory, a second one and a third building that would be a science center with a planetarium, meeting/classroom space and a museum-type area to host the historic Everest telescope that was built in the 1920s and restored by and donated to the APO over the last few years.
The APO formed with the intent of sharing "the wonders of the universe from the dark skies of the Adirondacks," according to its mission statement.
In 2009, the International Year of Astronomy, the APO was busy with a series of public presentations, appearances and star parties, as well as establishing an access road on its Little Wolf property that will enable it to perform the necessary testing the APA permit application requires, Staves said.
For more information on the Adirondack Public Observatory or to donate, go to www.apobservatory.org.