A fully-computerised telescope observatory is being built at the University College of the Cayman Islands.
UCCI members along with its project partner, the Rotary Club of Grand Cayman, donors and government officials attended the ground-breaking ceremony for the observatory at the campus Thursday, 11 August.
Rotary Club of Grand Cayman member William Hrudey spent six years constructing the telescope with an idea in mind to encourage interest in science and astronomy in the Cayman Islands. It is said to be one of the largest telescopes in the Caribbean. The telescope can be used to view the sun as well as the nighttime sky.
Rotary member John Doak produced the architectural drawings for the building that will house the telescope.
In addition to financial support from the Rotary Club of Grand Cayman, the project has two key funding sponsors, Greenlight Re and the Dart Foundation.
Greenlight Re’s Tim Curtis said they were sceptical at first about establishing an observatory, but now look at it as an ability to broaden the learning opportunities and abilities of the youth today, which he said can only be a benefit to the community at large.
UCCI President Roy Bodden said he was excited about the project, called “Reach for the Stars”, and he believes the challenges of the 21st century will be solved by science and technology. He said he was pleased these subject areas were being established firmly in courses at the university.
Premier McKeeva Bush, who was also at the ground breaking, lauded the project.
“The benefits of UCCI’s new acquisitions are geared to impact the education of both students and the wider community and we are about to launch into a new orbit of learning and that is excellent news,” Mr. Bush said. “Perhaps in the future we will be able to add yet another feature to our tourism product and it may even become the venue for conferences.”
However, Mr. Bush believes the observatory, for now, will be a major step toward expanding natural science for those who view the sky, especially the youngsters because for the first time they will be able to view the sky in stunning magnification.
Mr. Bush also understood that in due course the observatory will entrain visits from school children and he looked forward to it playing a significant part in expanding students’ horizons and thoughts. He said astronomy is still one area where the thrill of new discoveries is possible on a nightly basis and the sky literally is the limit.
“The goal is to teach science and astronomy to enthuse the youngsters to become scientists and even astronomers to widen their range of possible career choices,” Mr. Bush said. He further said young people needed to expand their whole being and enter careers other than just banking, accounting or the law.