French Camp’s eye on the heavens

By Sylvia Dickson

Rainwater Observatory and Planetarium is a ministry of French Camp
Academy and has touched the lives of thousands of people throughout
the world. It all began with the donation of a telescope and small
building in 1985 and has grown to be well respected throughout the
Southeast for its facilities and programming.

Rainwater Observatory and Planetarium offers a unique window into the
splendor of the heavens few facilities around the world can offer.
Its impressive array of 16 powerful telescopes includes a 25″ fully
automated Ritchey-Chretien telescope with a state of the art control
room and instrumentation, a 32″ Tectron, and a 20″ reflector, some
of the largest in the southeastern United States.

Novice and experienced astronomers are well-accommodated through a
variety of programming. Also, programs are designed for different
interest groups with emphasis for church, academic, seniors, youth,
scouting badges, or civic groups. In a typical year, over 200 groups
visit and utilize our facilities.

Each April, the spring Stargaze event attracts hundreds of people
from around the nation. Campers and telescopes dot the hill as
amateur and professional astronomers gather to learn from one
another, listen to experts and swap tales of their experiences. This
year the Stargaze will be April 10-13. Go to
www.rainwaterobservatory.org or call 662 547-9988 for registration
information.

In addition to the telescopes, Rainwater’s planetarium and lecture
rooms house museum exhibits, an extensive meteorite and fossil
collection, space art exhibit, library, classroom and computers. The
outdoor large scale exhibits are also valuable in teaching astronomy.

If you would like to learn more or schedule a group here at Rainwater
or have us do a program at your school, church or other organization
contact Rainwater Observatory at (662) 547-7283 or visit our website:
www.rainwaterobservatory.org.