The Etelman Observatory is located at 1325 feet above elevation on Crown Mountain of the island of St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands. The observatory houses a research-grade 0.5 m automated Cassegrain telescope. The telescope is maintained and operated by astronomers at the University of the Virgin Islands, the College of Charleston, and South Carolina State University.
In 1962, Harry I Etelman donated his house with the astronomical observatory to the College of the Virgin Islands. The original telescope was used as a teaching and public outreach instrument in the latter half of the 20th century as the College of the Virgin Islands grew into the University of the Virgin Islands. In 1999, the College of Science and Math reflected its ongoing commitment to excellence in scientific teaching and research by renovating the observatory. The college upgraded the existing 15-inch amateur telescope into a fully automated, robotically-controlled, and queue-driven 0.5m research-grade telescope. As part of this renovation project, the Etelman’s original house was converted into an observatory control and science education center. The New Etelman Observatory serves as a center for Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), a venue for public science outreach activities, and a fundamental astrophysics and geophysics research station.
Various people need to be recognized and thanked for their assistance with this project. First and foremost, the team owes an enormous debt of gratitude to Mr. Pete Crowther. Mr. Crowther lives near the observatory and has provided us with tools, hardware, computer networking assistance, extremely helpful advice, an abundance of coffee, and much more. He has sincerely helped our students and assisted us countless times. Pete is considered an honorary "team member" of the UVI Observatory.
We are grateful to Mr. John Lucas, former computer administrator at UVI. Mr. Lucas has provided invaluable assistance in all areas of computing and computer networking for the observatory, ranging from UPS configurations to networking drives. Without John's help, we would not be where we are today.
We acknowledge the support and encouragement from UVI faculty members Dr. Camille McKay, Dr. David Smith, and all the UVI administration personnel, especially during the initial stages of the telescope purchase and delivery through trying times. We thank the College of Charleston faculty and administration, especially Department of Physics and Astronomy Chair Dr. Jon Hakkila for his continued support to see this project to completion. We express gratitude to the College of Charleston School of Science and Mathematics Dean, Dr. Norine Noonan, for her continued concern and support for the UVI observatory.
We would like to thank the folks down at Sea Chest Ace Hardware on St. Thomas for providing advice and letting us stay to shop when the store was closing! We express appreciation for Radio Shack and Computer World for custom-length ethernet cables, USB cables, etc. We also express gratitude to Mr. Ben Sohn down at the sub-base machine shop for providing us with copper flashing used to make the dome shutter contacts, free of charge!
We thank the National Science Foundation (NSF) for several large grants to make this project possible. We are appreciative of the Department of Defense for additional grant funding for equipment purchases. We also acknowledge the National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA) for additional funding.