Boise Will Soon Have A Space Observatory Again

Sep 29, 2015

A local astronomer has made his crowdfunding goal and Boise will soon have an observatory again.

Brian Jackson used to work at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and now teaches in the Boise State Physics Department. He launched a PonyUp campaign earlier this month to raise $8,000 to refurbish the old observatory dome on top of the Education Building at BSU.

Jackson says they made their goal Saturday.

“I did not expect to wake up on Saturday and see it. It’s really amazing,” he says. “It’s really thanks to the generous support of the Boise community.”

He says whenever he’s talked to people in the community about putting in a new telescope, there’s a lot of interest.

“But people don’t always have a lot of money. However, people were willing to do it. I was impressed by people’s willingness and generosity.”

Jackson says he is extremely grateful for all the support.

“People will send me an email when they donate and tell me why they donated. Everyone has a little story to tell and it’s been gratifying to hear them.”

All that support has allowed Jackson to implement a stretch goal of $2,000. The extra money will pay for wireless internet access to the dome that visitors and students can use. It will also allow the Physics Department to livestream what the telescope is looking at on the internet. Jackson says that will allow a lot more people to see through the telescope in real time.

Once it’s up and running, Jackson will use the telescope for public outreach and teaching, so students can do some observational astronomy. And he’s planning some research projects using the telescope.

Now that Jackson has the money to get repairs done and the telescope mounted in place, the hope is to finish the project this fall and winter, depending on the weather. He’s hoping to have a grand opening event for the observatory in late spring or early summer. In the meantime, Jackson is planning more public events, like Sunday’s eclipse party at Boise State.

Find Samantha Wright on Twitter @samwrightradio

Copyright 2015 Boise State Public Radio