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Grow your astronomy education with our hands-on projects. Great for building STEM skills (Science Technology Engineering Math)

Our robotic telescope and camera systems capture pictures all night long for your astronomy projects.

History of Blueberry Pond Observatory:

1996 Advances in digital astronomy bring revolutionary new capabilities to "amateur" telescope for experiencing Astronomy, and for actual science studies and data collection with the new CCD cameras.  Thurston beings to investigate what would be involved to bring this opportunity into the reach of Maine children and families.

Early 1999 construction starts on Blueberry Pond Observatory as small facility after various discussions with surrounding colleges in Maine.  A collaborative shared facility proves to be too difficult to get started, so Thurston and family use a 2nd and 3rd mortgage to fund the new facility.  BPO's location is about 30 minutes from three major cities for Southern Maine: Portland, Brunswick, Lewiston/Auburn yet is far enough from light pollution to let you see the Milky Way high overhead every night.

December 1999 Blueberry Pond Observatory opens to the public for two hour guided tours. BPO joins the Maine Space Grant Consortium(MSGC).  BPO also joins the Freeport Merchants Association for getting the word out to visitors to the Freeport Maine area and beyond.

1999-2004 Many High School Students come to BPO in teams of 2-3 for advanced astronomy projects under a prototype program funded in part by MSGC and Thurston.  Students from Cape Elizabeth, Brunswick, Portland, and Harpswell all participate in the program taking many hours of astrophotography.  Several hundred students have participated in such programs at BPO.

2000-2002 Various college students from USM, Bowdoin, St. Joseph's College all participate in another new pilot program funded by MSGC and BPO.  This program explored early ways of including digital astronomy in the astronomy classes at these colleges.

2003-2005 Large collaborative grant applied for with the National Science Foundation spearheaded by MSGC and integrating together colleges throughout Maine, BPO, EarthKam, Space Day, Travelling Science Trunks, Astronomy clubs and more to form new STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) activities for Maine students and Families.  Funding was not achieved for this grant, but the ideas explored serve as a springboard for future efforts to expand STEM and astronomy in rural Maine.

2006-2007 USM uses a new grant from MSGC for a much more detailed pilot program for advanced astronomy laboratory projects by USM students at BPO.  Joan Chamberlin helped prototyped the Hertz-Russell Diagrams of Global Clusters project.  Also conducted a Moon Shadows project for measuring the height of moon features via their shadows, and atmospheric extinction measurements.

Staring in late 2007 BPO adds new autonomous robotic capabilities to it's telescope, camera, and computer software.  Robotic operations allows the observatory to execute projects all night long on a regular basis without constant human supervision.  This allows much lower cost access to very advanced astronomy projects such as asteroid light curves, variable star light curves, searches for new asteroids, comets, supernovas, or exotic projects such as extra-solar planet transits.  Click here for more detail on robotic projects.

2008 saw the arrival of the new RCX400 12" telescope at BPO, replacing the old LX200 12" telescope (after nearly 10 years of use).  The new RCX400 telescope improves every aspect of visual and CCD operations, including sharper images, easy collimation of optics, rock sturdy focus, and less sensitivity to nightly temperature changes.  This new telescope lends itself to even more robotic operations due to its advanced capabilities.

Also added a one shot color SBIG 2000 ccd Camera and ST8300 with Adaptive Optics to the equipment used here, giving great flexibility for working with different targets.

New innovations and initiatives are always under development at BPO.  We welcome proposals for pilot programs to bring this new robotic astronomy know-how into Maine classrooms to bring digital astronomy to life for Maine students and families, strengthening their STEM skills and future career choices.

Be sure to check out our Webinars and Online Lessons for Astronomy Adventures right from your home!
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