The UVI Observatory, located at 1325 ft atop Crown Mountain on the island of St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands, 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 and the astronomical observatory he had built within it, to the, then, 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, reflecting its ongoing commitment to excellence in scientific teaching and research, began a renovation of the Etelman Observatory to upgrade the existing 15-inch amateur telescope housed in the observatory to 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) education excellence, a venue for public science outreach activities, and a fundamental astrophysics and geophysics research station.
So many 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. Pete lives near the observatory and has provided us with tools, hardware, computer networking assistance, extremely helpful advice, lots of coffee, and too many other items to list. He has unselfishly helped our students and helped us get out of countless binds. Pete is considered an honorary "team member" of the UVI Observatory.
We are also grateful to Mr. John Lucas, former computer administrator at UVI. John 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 also acknowledge the support and encouragement, especially during the initial stages of the telescope purchase and delivery (which were very trying times), from UVI faculty members: Dr. Camille McKay and Dr. David Smith, and all the UVI administration personnel. We also 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 also thank College of Charleston School of Science and Mathematics Dean, Dr. Norine Noonan, for her continued concern and support for the UVI observatory.
We would also 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 also thank Radio Shack, and Computer World for custom-length ethernet cables, USB cables, etc... We also thank 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 also thank the Department of Defense for additional grant funding for equipment purchases. We also acknowledge the National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA) for additional funding.