New Observatory at Francis Malcom Science Center, Easton, Maine
Space captivates our senses as we wonder at the depth of the universe. It comes from a natural curiosity as we want to learn more about our galaxy and beyond.
We have so many beautiful places in Aroostook County, Maine to look at the stars and take it all in. The Francis Malcom Science Center has been a big part of our interest in exploring. From the time it opened in 1983, it has encouraged and inspired us to look up and expand our minds and learn more about the natural world.
The center in Easton, Maine now has a new opportunity to go even further and beyond. They have broken ground on a new observatory to house a telescope to see into space. The building's design allows the roof to move on rails with the telescope in a fixed place to be ready to stargaze.
What an exciting time as we’ve just recently seen several flights of citizens into orbit. It’s also a very historical time - July 20, 1969 was our first time on the moon. These new developments in space travel and our memories of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin are constant reminders of the potential of humankind.
We’ve included an article below from the Francis Malcolm Science Center. It goes into detail about the project, the volunteers, the funding and the excitement about having an observatory like this in northern Maine.
Make sure you plan many visits with your family and friends to the Francis Malcolm Science Center located at 776 Houlton Road in Easton, Maine. You can reach out to them at (207) 488 - 5451 and send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Like them on Facebook and share their posts.
Eyes to Take to the Skies as Ground Broken on New Observatory
Easton, Me – Aroostook County has always been known for its wide-open spaces and big views, but work being done at The Francis Malcolm Science Center will lead to amazing views that are out of this world!
“This project is a year and a half in the making,” explained Connor St. Peter while taking a break from construction. “I felt that even though attaining the rank of Eagle Scout is a large honor and involves a lot of work, the projects that most scouts do are fairly small. I do not wish to undermine the projects of scouts who should be proud of their achievements, rather, I want to go above and beyond with mine.”
Above and beyond indeed, as Connor’s Eagle Scout project is to build a permanent observatory building to house a telescope for peering deep into space and exploring the cosmos.
“I have a passion for astronomy and a hope to bolster its presence in the lives of others just the same as how it was given to me by my instructor Larry Berz,” stated Connor, a recent graduate of the Maine School for Science and Mathematics.
“The construction of the new Science Center observatory will signal a remarkable new experience in astronomical awareness and adventure for our entire community,” explained Planetarium Director, Larry Berz. “Most of my own personal astronomical observations with telescopes depended upon bringing equipment into the field including all the small steps of assembling and packing gear. A permanent observatory from a dark sky sight now provides instant access to telescopes and related accessories. This amounts to much more time to observe the Universe on a more efficient and focused basis.”
Something Berz, known for his passionate, energetic teaching style, can’t wait to share with residents of Aroostook County and beyond once the project is completed later this year.
“The centralized location of this facility offers easy access to the public and the added bonus of the resources of the Science Center itself within walking distance to the main building,” said Berz. “As an educational resource, the observatory will give visitors of all ages the unique opportunity to see the tools of the astronomer firsthand and to offer the unmatched experience of seeing planets, star clusters, galaxies and related wonder directly with the eye rather than the flat images provided on-line or by related media and text. The spinoff of such exciting moments will lead to further investment by the community in telescopes and other aids for enhancing awareness and investment in one of Aroostook County's greatest resources: a dark star filled sky untarnished by encroaching light pollution and related social stress.”
The observatory building is a convertible of sorts. The roof is designed to roll off onto supported rails, allowing the telescope to remain in place and give quick access to the stars above. Connor has assembled a team of volunteers young and old to assist with the project who worked on the plans, engineered the custom-built building, solicited donations and have been making steady progress on the construction since the school year ended, and work started.
“As a past Scout leader, I enthusiastically endorsed Connor’s request to tackle such a bold initiative to complete his Eagle Scout requirements,” exclaimed Phil Christensen, a member of the Science Center’s Board of Directors. “Knowing that a Scout cannot ask for money or free materials, I assisted him in reaching out to local venders of products and services that he needed and am overwhelmed by the generous response he received. Several businesses offered tremendous help. Numerous individuals provided funds to an account arranged by others. Connor is from Kenduskeag and the support provided by his family and friends has motivated us all. And the local students, residents and visitors to our area will be the beneficiaries of this exciting adventure.”
Numerous individuals and businesses have contributed to the project, including Rathbun Lumber Company, Huber Engineered Woods, Aroostook Truss Company, Trombley Readi Mix, Earthworks Inc., George Pelletier Excavation, K Pel Industrial Services, Lowes, J & J Mini Barns, Versant Power, McCain Foods, Maine Laundry Centers, County Federal Credit Union, Fields Realty, MSSM Foundation, and Katahdin Trust Company.
“I've always been told of how amazing the citizens of Aroostook County are having lived in Penobscot County my whole life, but only after going to school up there and now leaving my mark in Easton, have I truly realized how dedicated the citizens are to their communities,” said Connor. “From thousands of dollars in cash donations from individuals to the generous local companies who provided well more than expected, I've been inspired by the support of Aroostook and statewide communities.”
“When the Board was approached by Connor to build the observatory at the Francis Malcolm Science Center, we jumped at the idea and approved the request right away,” said Jim Orser, President of the Science Center’s Board. “This project, once completed, will add a new science education opportunity to what is offered today at the Science Center. Both children and adults will enjoy a far-reaching experience as they reach to the stars and planets – an opportunity that they have not had in the past.”
John Strid, a member of the Science Center Board of Directors, has been Connor’s construction advisor and served as his Superintendent at the work site and has enjoyed using his construction experience on this project. John says, “It has been fun applying my experience on home and commercial construction to help Connor with this unique building. Connor has a great team and we have enjoyed helping him and working together. I got hooked on the Science Center when Larry Berz had me look through the giant telescope and I saw the rings of Saturn. I look forward to when our public can share this experience.”
Rick Shepherd, Science Center Board of Directors member, has been the jack-of-all-trades for Connor. He helped with the roof roll off system and has always been working at the site. Rick says, “I enjoy the camaraderie and seeing this special contribution that Connor is providing the Community come together. Working with our team and Connor and his friends Justin Pelletier, Thomas Moore, Sam Cullins and others has made this a great experience.”
While the work on the project is hitting the home stretch, the Francis Malcom Science Center, a 501(C)3 non-profit, could use your support to help complete the project. Donations can be made to: FMSC Scout Observatory Project, PO Box 186, Easton, ME 04740 or at
GoFundMe – Francis Malcolm Science Center, Easton, Maine