One man's vision to open the heavens to all

| 21 Feb 2012 | 10:47

    OGDENSBURG-Amateur astronomer and trustee of the Sterling Hill Mining Museum Foundation, Bill Kroth, had a vision to expand the educational offerings at the facility to include an astronomical experience along with the study of the geology of the area. Sterling Hill's location allows for an unobstructed view of the skies with little or no light pollution. The Westfield High School Science Club has made an annual pilgrimage to the site to observe the night skies, and their interest inspired Kroth to pursue building an actual observatory there. The observatory is being funded by donations from friends of the Foundation and will involve three telescopes. Kroth is restoring a professional 16-inch 800-pound permanent observatory telescope that will be the center of the observatory. He is donating both the telescope and the more than 500 hours of restoration work he has put in on it. Recently, Dr. Warren Miller donated a 12-inch diameter reflecting telescope along with an astronomical library that will be included in the complex. The largest telescope will be housed in the 15-foot fiberglass dome that is the observatory building. Two smaller telescopes will be located on the periphery of the building. The white dome will be electrically operated with motor drives that match the earth's rotation. The building is a necessary element of the astronomical experience needed to provide shelter to the students and general public who will use the building. Kroth plans a regular schedule of nights during which the general public can observe the night sky. The observatory will also hold special programs for events such as meteor showers, eclipses, and comets. The Sterling Hill Mine and Museum is located on Plant Street. For more information, call 973-209-7272 or visit