The most the Astronomy Club of Akron spent on equipment — at least in anyone’s recent memory — was perhaps $700 for a lens.
So the $12,400 it just put out for a new, 16-inch telescope is a really big deal. So big, the club will unveil it over two separate public events Saturday.
The Meade LX200 ACF telescope is located at the club’s observatory in Portage Lakes State Park. Follow the “Observatory” signs after entering the park off Manchester Road in New Franklin.
The first event is a solar party and hot dog roast. The telescope won’t be in use for this daylight event, but attendees can view sunspots and solar flares through the specially filtered telescopes of club members from 1 p.m. until about 4 p.m. Radio telescopes also will be on hand, and hot dogs and hamburgers will be on the grill, observatory director Ron Kalinoski said.
Then at 9 p.m., the telescope will start taking a tour of some far-reaching nebulas and clusters, including Wild Duck Cluster, NGC6633, Cat’s Eye Nebula and Ring Nebula.
The telescope replaces a 14-inch predecessor donated to the club years ago. The new equipment collects about 30 percent more light, Kalinoski said.
“There are some faint galaxies that we’ll be able to see better,” he said, including the Sombrero and Whirlpool galaxies.
The lens also will pick up features like 3C 273, the first quasar to be identified, found in the constellation Virgo. And the telescope will split double stars that appear as one through smaller lenses.
“The club’s been saving since 1949” when it was founded, Kalinoski said. “We haven’t made many purchases.”
The club has about 75 members, and attracts between 20 and 50 people to public stargazing parties, which its conducts two or three times a month between March and November.
For a schedule of events, visit the group’s website at www.acaoh.org.
Of course, all events are dependent on the weather. As of Thursday evening, the National Weather Service was forecasting clear skies.