LIMA — After raising $6,235 to fix Schoonover Observatory’s dome, the Lima Astronomical Society is looking at creating a second smaller dark-sky observatory near the archery range in Kendrick Woods.
LAS Vice President Michael Ritchie said the $150,000 project would create a 16-by-20-foot garage-like structure with a sliding roof that would allow those inside to use telescopes of varying sizes.
If the society is successful, the site would then be ceded over to Johnny Appleseed Metropolitan Park District, and the Lima Astronomical Society would own the telescopes and other astronomical gear stored inside.
Ritchie said the astronomical society could use the new site to do more professional work, which is nigh impossible in Lima proper due to the city’s overwhelming light pollution.
“We can go out and find asteroids that are coming to earth,” Ritchie said. “Amateurs can still do this kind of work.”
Just over $2,000 has been raised for the project so far thanks to the astronomical society’s fundraising efforts to fix Schoonover Observatory. Society members had set up a gofundme.com page to gauge the general public’s interest in helping LAS, and while $4,000 was initially requested, the fundraiser exceeded its expectations.
“We thought we’d be lucky if we got half,” Ritchie said.
The Lima Noon Sertoma Club donated $1,000 to the astronomical society’s total. Bob Cook, the club’s president-elect, said the Sertoma Club has a history of helping out the City of Lima’s park system, and when they heard about Schoonover Observatory needing funds for repairs, they decided to move forward with the donation.
“We thought this was a good extension of helping the city and the parks, as well as the Lima Astronomical Society,” Cook said.
In the past, the club has also built a shelter house and added landscaping at Faurot Park.
Due to the support, LAS can now pay to replace a series of three electric motors that operated the rotation and the opening of Schoonover Observatory’s 5,000-pound dome. The former motors had begun to smoke and had become inoperable, Ritchie said.
“(Schoonover Observatory) was an extremely special thing in Lima when it was built,” Ritchie said. “We are still one of the few cities that have a city-owned observatory.”
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.