THE TECHNOLOGY: Michael Sibbernsen (left) and Matthew Anderson show one of Branched Oak Observatory’s telescopes. This telescope filters out various types of light, allowing for safe studying of the Sun’s surface and will be in use during the upcoming Star Party. (Staff Photo by Clayton Karloff)

RAYMOND – With a little help from a grant from the Lancaster County Visitors Improvement Fund, Branched Oak Observatory is hoping to get a new piece of high-tech equipment.

Observatory Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Michael Sibbernsen said he and Co-Founder Matthew Anderson strive to provide the best technology and equipment for both educational and public use.

The new .5 meter CDK telescope and L500 Mount from PlaneWave Instruments will be another way to accomplish that.

Sibbernsen and Anderson recently applied for a Lancaster County Visitors Improvement Fund Grant.

The new telescope will cost $64,747 and an application was sent in for review by the Visitors Promotion Committee on Feb. 20.

At the April 9 Lancaster County Board of Commissioners’ meeting, Convention and Visitors Bureau Vice President-Executive Director Jeff Maul made the committee’s recommendation to grant $20,000 to the Branched Oak Observatory, with the condition that it receives the rest of the funds from other sources within a year. It was noted in the commissioners’ minutes that an extension of time could be requested of necessary.

Since then, Sibbernsen and Anderson working to raise the raise the additional money required through donations. Sibbernsen added the observatory is operated solely through donations and volunteer work.

“All money donated is used 100 percent for the telescope,” Sibbersen said.

He said the new telescope will be used for a variety of different purposes.

“It’s for a little bit of everything,” Sibbersen said.

Although, he said it would mostly be used for astrophotography and visual-astronomy.

The co-founders see the grant from the Lancaster County Visitors Improvement Fund as opportunity to provide the best equipment they can for those in the area who share their passion for all things space-related.

“The ability to make this opportunity available to other people is huge,” Sibbernsen said.

Anderson agreed.

“The telescope will set the observatory apart, make us unique,” he added.

The new telescope is more powerful than the three telescopes available at the observatory now, allowing for clearer looks at all manners of special phenomenon located further away than their current equipment could study clearly.

Sibbersen said the telescope will be available for any to use, whether it be young students just starting to learn about astronomy or experts coming to use the facility for their own studies.

He said the new telescope will arrive for use at the observatory within the year, though the exact date is unknown.

(1) comment


Thank you Clayton for visiting Branched Oak Observatory and for writing this informative article. We look forward to making this amazing piece of observing equipment available to our community and to visiting astronomy enthusiasts from throughout the midwest. Hope to see everyone out to Branched Oak Observatory during our NE SciFest Star Party on April 27th, and our many planned activities over the summer.

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