What is Martz’s New Observatory?

Contributing Writer
Walt Pickut
Board of Directors, MMMAA

We humans have been looking up at the stars in wonder for thousands of years. Every culture throughout history has left evidence that they studied the night sky, measured it, mapped it and consulted its flawless clock. From Galileo’s first spyglass to the Hubble Space Telescope, ever more ingenious instruments have been built to aid the human eye in peering into the universe. But a telescope alone is not an observatory.

The Martz Observatory in Frewsburg has a new research telescope and has begun creating a new, second observatory dedicated to the science programs and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education in every school system in Chautauqua County. Funding is now being sought for the project. But an Observatory is a special architectural creation. It is not “a telescope in a building”.

An observatory is like a pair of glasses. Lenses to correct your nearsighted eyes are useless without their frames. Alone, both are of no use; together they become glasses.

A telescope is almost as useless as lenses without its own “frame”, the structure that houses it. Together, they make an observatory. An observatory is not “a building around a telescope” but a single, unified instrument with a single purpose.

Today’s observatories are different from observatories of old in another way too. Almost nobody climbs up a ladder any more in the dark on a cold night to look at the stars. Electronic eyes are thousands of times more sensitive than the human eye and can gather light without blinking for minutes and even hours. A warm, lighted control room or classroom will allow viewers to see the stars, the planets and the entire universe in brilliant colors and in subtle shades impossible for the eye to see in any other way.

The control room, therefore, is as much a part of the telescope as the cockpit is part of the airplane; it’s not a separate “room”, it’s just the modern version of the eyepiece at the top of that rickety old ladder.

Martz Observatory invites viewers, new members and anyone who wants to be a stargazer to travel the universe with us and help support the building of one of America’s newest observatories.

Keep looking up!

News from the Marshal Martz Observatory and the universe beyond our skies is brought to our readers every month by Hall & Laury Optical at 707 Fairmount Ave Ste 10 Jamestown NY, the quality local source for the latest in fashion and highest of quality in glasses and optical aids of every kind, including repairs.