LAMAR, Mo. — An observatory in southwest Missouri has reopened after completing renovations.

The Stilabower Public Observatory in Lamar has a new replacement telescope that allows visitors to specify an object or coordinates to find in the sky, the Joplin Globe reported .

The observatory is located on the Lamar High School campus. It was built in 1993 for an estimated $160,000.

The observatory’s original telescope could no longer be properly maintained after years of use. The telescope’s manufacturers also stopped making the parts needed to keep the device up to date.

The Lamar School District and the community launched a fundraiser to renovate the observatory.

Renovations cost about $15,000 and also included an upgraded wall, upgraded lighting, and repainting the dome, said Zach Harris, superintendent of the school district.

The family of Edwin Stilabower Jr., who the observatory is named after, played an important role in supporting the renovation, he said.

The new telescope is best used during the night to view planets, stars and other objects visitors are already familiar with, said Walter Powell, a local observatory expert. The lens is designed to make dim objects appear more visible and doesn’t necessarily magnify objects to make them appear bigger, Powell said.

“It’s an absolutely amazing piece of equipment,” he said.

The observatory is available to Lamar teachers interested in incorporating it into their curriculum and to the community by appointment.

“Ultimately, I think our goal is to provide opportunities for our kids, community and the area to use our facilities,” Harris said. “That’s what it’s there for.”


Information from: The Joplin (Mo.) Globe, http://www.joplinglobe.com

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