WAA November Meeting

Friday, November 11 at 7:30 pm

David Pecker Conference Room
Willcox Hall, Pace University, Pleasantville, NY
or on-line via Zoom

The McCarthy Observatory: A Refuge for Science

Bill Cloutier
Founding member, McCarthy Observatory

The McCarthy Observatory is the centerpiece of a community science center in New Milford, Connecticut. It was conceived, designed and constructed by volunteers from the local communities with a common goal  to establish a teaching tool to promote science literacy.

The observatory is different from many other astronomical facilities in that its focus is on accessibility and educational outreach. While capable of real science, the mission of the non-profit organization that operates the facility is to encourage critical thinking and promote STEM-related learning. Over the past 22 years, the all-volunteer staff has continued to add to the observatory’s educational offerings and look for new and innovative means to engage with the public.

The talk will focus on the history of the McCarthy Observatory, as well as the challenge of managing a small, all-volunteer organization with lofty goals.

Bill Cloutier is an amateur astronomer and founding member of the McCarthy Observatory. He is also on the Board of Directors that oversees the all-volunteer, non-profit organization that operates and maintains the Observatory, which opened to the public in December 2000. Bill is the author of the observatory’s monthly newsletter, covering topics related to astronomy and space exploration, a regular presenter at public events, an adult education classroom instructor for a night sky appreciation course, NEO observer, and the caretaker/public outreach coordinator for the observatory’s antique refractor telescope. Before retiring, Bill worked in the nuclear industry for 42 years. He has had a life-long interest in astronomy, lunar photography, the history of lunar exploration, and sharing those pursuits with the public. He is also a NASA Solar System Ambassador, a volunteer outreach initiative conveying the latest happenings in space exploration to the general public to generate interest in the STEM disciplines.