The Anoka-Hennepin School District is one of a few in the nation to have their own observatory. Teachers and students from all grade levels are able to utilize this facility to reinforce their curriculum. Activities also include outreach to public groups, other schools and local colleges and universities.
The dome which houses the telescope is fully rotational with a wide opening and is operated by remote control. The opening has two panels. The upper panel slides up and over the top of the dome and the lower panel tilts down to a level position.We have a Meade 14" diameter telescope. The optical system is a Schmidt-Cassegrain design which is a type of reflector telescope. The telescope can be operated manually or by a computer which knows the location of thousands of objects in the universe at any time on any given day. Besides seeing the planets and moons of our solar system with this scope we can see beyond our solar system and observe nebulae, star clusters and galaxies. Ron Schmit was born and raised in St Cloud, MN. As far back as he can remember, he has been fascinated by space exploration. Even as a wee tot, bedtime stories were from the "S" volume of the World Book Encyclopedia, for nothing was more amazing than "Space." His parents encouraged reading and education, taking family trips down to the Minneapolis Planetarium and the Science Museum of Minnesota to learn more, and providing enrichment courses during summer break in rocketry, aviation, computers, and outdoor recreation. He found his first telescope under the Christmas tree at age 13 and since then, has used it to share his love of the cosmos with others.
When he moved down to the Twin Cities, to attend the University of Minnesota, he needed a part time job to help pay for school. At the Science Museum, he found a venue for his knowledge of space and his love of learning, teaching classes through its Youth & Family Education and its Adult & Travel programs.
He has also been an astronomy educator with the Minneapolis Planetarium, the Eisenhower Observatory, the Open U, the Bell Museum, the Girl Scouts of America, and the Minnesota Astronomical Society. In 2001, he was selected as a JPL/NASA Solar System Ambassador. Though rewarding and exciting, all of these positions were only volunteer or part time, and there was always "the day job" to support his family, serving as a technical support specialist and technical trainer with Fargo Electronics, and then Rosemount Nuclear.
In the summer of 2014, he was granted the opportunity to make a career out of his passion when he was hired as the observatory coordinator, replacing a retiring Dee McLellan. Getting to spend his days doing what he loves is a dream come true, and he looks forward to sharing the wonders of the sky with students and inspiring them to reach for the stars.