A Vision Come True: Spring 2019 Sees Completion


Contributing Writer
Walt Pickut
Board of Directors, MMMAA

Spring, 2019 will see the completion of the Martz-Kohl Observatory’s 10-year expansion project. For readers and guests who have been following the progress, a brief history was recently prepared by long-time member, Richard Carlson, a founding member of the association who, as a teenage astronomy enthusiast, worked with Marshal Martz as far back as the 1950s.
Richard recalls:
Marshal Martz, founder of the Martz observatory, had a dream. His wife, Mary, wanted to perpetuate his dream upon his passing, not knowing what would become of her husband’s ambition to construct an observatory occupied by one of the largest telescopes ever constructed by one man, a 30-inch [mirror] Newtonian reflector. Time waits for no one and Mary Martz could only wonder what would become of the observatory that had expanded beyond a simple cement block building with a large telescope… becoming an educational facility both she and her husband, Marshal, had dreamed about. During the early stages of change, the observatory was still Mary’s home. By this time, more and more activity was taking place on location by the corporation she was responsible to have formed, known as the Marshal Martz Memorial Astronomical Association, Inc., which was meeting in an addition attached to the observatory.
It wasn’t until Mary bequeathed the observatory to the association following her move to a new residence, that volunteer observatory members fully realized the potential the observatory had, should improvements to the facility be made. It began as a slow process to improve the facility with fresh paint and minor repairs, followed by the replacement of the outdated original telescope with a 24-inch Cassegrain especially designed for scientific astro-imaging. The true renaissance was seen by the general public to emerge with the addition of the Dr. Ronald Kohl observatory combined with the Martz facility in 2014 which led the observatory to be totally upgraded.
Following three months of construction in 2018, the observatory reopened its doors to the public without fanfare in November. The long-awaited effort to complete the revitalization of the building’s structure had neared conclusion…safety concerns were reduced and guests could once again be invited to the observatory for pleasurable educational experiences… including looking through the Kohl telescope, exploring the roll-off roof [observing] area, and seeing the 24-inch telescope under its dome.
On November 28th [2018] the association board approved NuWood Creations to complete the interiors of the Welcome Center and the new additions added to the front of the observatory. Regular activities will resume following construction in January when safety concerns will no longer be an issue for our guests. The shutdown, due to construction, came between the Mars opposition that occurred at the end of July 2018 and the Doors Open Jamestown event on January 19th, 2019, with a brief reopening in November. The observatory resumed its regular activities on January 19th, 2019.
Please visit the Martz-Kohl website to see the calendar of events at http://martzobservatory.org/observatory-calendar/.
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.

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Walt Pickut’s writing career began with publishing medical research in1971 while working at the Jersey City Medical Center and the NYU Hospital and School of Medicine. Walt holds board registries in respiratory care and sleep technology as well as bachelor's degrees in biology and communication, and a master's degrees in physiology from Fairleigh-Dickinson University in New Jersey, with additional graduate work in mass communication completed at SUNY Amherst. He currently teaches Presentational Speaking in the Houghton College PACE program at JCC and holds memberships in the Society of Professional Journalists and the American Society of Business Publication Editors. He lives in Jamestown with his wife Nancy, an MSW social worker, and has three children: Dr. Cait Lamberton in Pittsburgh, Bill Pickut, a marketing executive in Chicago, and Rev. Matt Pickut in Plymouth, IN.