Then came the good news: Camp
Cullom, a non-profit camp between
Mulberry and Frankfort, had obtained more land and was looking for uses
for it. Russell Kaspar, who had been a member of the Wabash
Valley Astronomical Society back in his high school days in the
years of the club's existence, and who had been involved with Camp
his whole life, had convinced the Camp's board of directors to build an
observatory there. The project got off the ground with a $10,000
donation from Janet Pillion (the original source was the estate of
Stevenson). As plans (and dreams!) progressed, additional support
came from the Clinton County
Foundation, the Clinton
County Foundation for Youth (the United Way agency that runs Camp
and Kaspar Broadcasting Group
(WSHW Shine 99 and other radio stations, owned by Russ and his father,
Vernon Kaspar). Several WVAS members and Dan Albaugh loaned
for the observatory, including two computers, an astro-video system, a
CCD digital imaging system, and a 4" aperture refractor. Vernon
Kaspar provided a donation
an H-alpha solar filter. Volunteer labor was provided by John
Russ Kaspar, Dan Albaugh, Camp Cullom ranger/caretaker Hoppy Bray and
board president Jerry Seager, Chris Peterson and many other Boy Scouts
from the region, several WVAS members, two local carpenters, and
other individuals. Other contributions
of material, time, and discounts came from Kramer
Lumber of Frankfort, Lowe's Hardware
of Lafayette, and Carpetland USA
of Lafayette. Construction details are here.
Opening weekend was Friday and Saturday, July 20-21, 2001. Although the preceeding week was one of the hottest and most humid weeks of the summer, the clouds parted miraculously at sundown for a few hours of clear (but very hazy) viewing. About 100 people, including State Representative Jim Thompson, attended.
PGO on opening day
Public viewing events have been
held approximately monthly during the warmer months ever since, with
many additional group viewing events held for Boy Scout troops, church
or community groups, etc. A schedule of public events can
be found here.
In the later months of 2001, the Mulberry Cooperative
Telephone Company donated a high speed internet connection.
Both telescope mounts are computerized, so the computers and internet
connection give us the ability to get the latest info on current comets
and other objects, and have the telescopes move to them automatically.
In 2002, the Frankfort Eagles Lodge #976
and the Clinton
County Highway Department provided a gravel driveway.
Later in 2002, the observatory's chief
astronomer John Mahony made observations of asteroids that led to the
observatory being named as an official
asteroid tracking/discovery station by the Minor Planet Center
at the Harvard/Smithsonian
In August of 2002, the Indiana
Family Star Party was
inaugurated. This weekend-long festival has drawn over one
hundred visitors annually. It provides amateur astronomers of all
levels a chance to spend a weekend under dark skies with fellow
astronomers, and provides novices a chance to use dozens of different
In 2003, Clinton County adopted a light pollution ordinance to help preserve
the dark skies in the area.
In early 2004 we received a large donation
with the instructions to get "the largest telescope we could" with the
money. After months of research, we purchased a 28" aperture
with a SkyTracker "goto" drive system.