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Bethel College announces First Light for new telescope in Mabee Observatory

September 11th, 2017

NORTH NEWTON, KAN.- Bethel College in North Newton is touting a new and exciting facility which will open up a universe of possibilities for inquiring minds. It is the Mabee Observatory that crowns the new Krehbiel Science Center.

The facility will be used for on-campus classes and research and will also be integrated into collaborative and outreach programs for the greater community. Zerger Gift

The new 16" Meade, Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope in Mabee Observatory honors the memory of Paul Zerger. Zerger taught chemistry, physics and mathematics in McPherson and other public schools in Kansas for more than 35 years. The telescope was a gift to the college from Zerger's son and daughter-in-law, Bethel College chemistry professor Richard Zerger and his wife, Donna, of McPherson.

First Light

The Mabee Observatory will be open for its inaugural "First Light" during the college's Fall Festival. From 7 to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Oct. 11 and 12, the facility in Krehbiel Science Center will be open for public viewing (weather permitting).

Celestial performers will include:

  1. A beautiful galaxy located 2.2 million light years away -- M31 the great spiral galaxy in Andromeda;
  2. A huge, hydrogen-rich gas bubble surrounding an exploded star -- M57 the Ring Nebula;
  3. A swarm of tens of thousands of very old stars in a cluster called a "Globular Cluster" -- M13 the Globular Cluster in Hercules;
  4. The Waxing Crescent Moon. The moon will be six days from New Moon. This phase of the moon provides great shadows to view lunar mountains and craters. Telescope Features

The telescope is the newest model GPS (Global Positioning System) LX200, Equatorial Mount, Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope from Meade Corporation. It boasts the largest production aperture currently available and is equipped with Ultra High Transmission Coating (UHTC) optics.

"The telescope is truly a marvelous instrument that rivals any telescope in the state," says Tracy Tuttle, who teaches astronomy and is serving as acting director and coordinator of the Mabee Observatory.

High quality digital imaging and data acquisition will soon be available as the telescope is integrated with the observatory's computer systems.

Luke Schmidt, a senior from Peabody, works with Tuttle as the Mabee Observatory research assistant. Schmidt is currently undertaking a research project using the telescope and its Charged Couple Device (CCD) imaging to take photometric measurements of celestial objects.

Fall Festival

Dedication of the new $6.5 million Krehbiel Science Center (KSC) at Bethel College is scheduled for 9 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 12. The public is invited to attend. The facility will be open to visitors after the dedication and until 5 p.m. that day. Faculty who have offices in KSC will greet guests from 1-3 p.m., also Oct. 12.

The dedication is part of Bethel College Fall Festival that runs from Oct. 10 through 13 and includes the inauguration of E. LaVerne Epp as the 12th president of Bethel College.

By June Krehbiel, Bethel College News Service

About Bethel

As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.