Dan Explains: McCarthy Observatory is New Milford’s asteroid hunter

NEW MILFORD -- On Route 7 in New Milford, on the grounds of the high school, a small building with a dome blends in pretty well with the scenery --

-- until you notice the actual used tire from the Space Shuttle sitting in front, or the 6 foot model sun mounted nearby.

Inside, a signed photo of Buzz Aldrin on the moon lets you know you’re in nerd heaven, and that’s before the dome opens!

For the past 18 years, the McCarthy Observatory has been bringing the night sky just a little closer. Run by volunteers, its goal is to inspire kids and adults alike to look up and be amazed at what you see.

“We’ve made discoveries, we’ve discovered four asteroids. Everything is computer controlled.”

Bob Lambert is the operations manager and one of the lead instructors at the observatory. They have numerous high-quality telescopes, with the ability to track many objects in the night sky. For example, back in February when SpaceX launched a Tesla Roadster into deep space, this telescope was tracking it! Whether it’s a car in space or a meteor, they’ve got it covered.

The observatory just acquired a broad selection of meteorites, so these are not just space rocks, they’re a glimpse into our past, to the beginning of the solar system. They even have a rock that the observatory spotted just hours, if not minutes, before it crashed into Sudan, Africa.

“All these are 4 and a half billion years old.”  Bob told us.

So, if you or your children are interested in this, you can get in on the action. On the second Saturday of every month, they host dozens of people, sometimes more than a hundred, for a free stargazing event. You can gaze through the big telescopes, bring your own and join the party, or have your mind blown by their scale model of the solar system. It starts with the 6 foot sun, and that’s where we started our tour.

And the other 7 planets are scattered through New Milford, with one extra dwarf planet that’s close to a lot of people’s hearts.

“And we have Pluto! Pluto is 4 miles away and it’s by the swimming pool at Canterbury School.”

So at this quiet spot in New Milford, what started off as “hey let’s build an observatory” has blossomed into something special that kids and adults can enjoy. For more information, you can visit their website.

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