Success Stories

Giant Telescope coming to NWA


1911 Telescope Relocation Project

Quick Facts:

  • Completed in 1911 by the John A Brashear Company

  • 24-inch aperture

  • 36 foot focal length

  • Tied for 6th largest refracting telescope in the United States

  • Cast iron mount and pier weigh 50,000 lbs

Swarthmore College just outside Philadelphia is currently home to a massive 24-inch diameter refractor telescope. Originally built in 1911 by the John Brashear Company to the specifications of William Cameron Sproul who donated the instrument to Swarthmore College, the Telescope is an f/18 instrument – 18x longer than it is wide – and the optical tube is 36-ft long.  The Sproul Observatory building at Swarthmore is being repurposed because a new observatory has been constructed housing a modern instrument.  Swarthmore College sought out a college or group who could repurpose the instrument and use it for public outreach and STEM education –Supporting STEM and Space has accepted the challenge and is currently raising funding to bring this historic instrument to Northwest Arkansas.

Northwest Arkansas has seen a renaissance in astronomy in the last decade, both in terms of active amateur astronomy, and in astronomy education in local schools.  Supporting STEM and Space co-host International Observe the Moon nights each year. They also have members who speak in the public schools and at local libraries numerous times each year. Supporting STEM and Space is also the primary sponsor of Northwest Arkansas’ new Library Telescope Project, a nationwide effort to put Telescopes in local libraries for use by library members.

The Sugar Creek Astronomical Society – a local astronomy club – hosts one of the largest regularly occurring astronomy event in the nation; their Hobbs State Park Astronomy Nights host several hundred avid amateur astronomers bi-monthly.  The University of Arkansas at Fayetteville now boasts an Astronomy for Educators program that trains new teachers in astronomy education and actively reaches out to help train local teachers and provide astronomy programs as STEM outreach to schools across the area.  This program reaches more than 1,000 students each year and provides training to hundreds of educators each school year.

Supporting STEM and Space is seeking to bring this wonderful telescope to Northwest Arkansas to provide a much needed focal point for astronomy education and STEM outreach for our area.  Dr. Daniel Barth, Assistant Professor of STEM Education at the University of Arkansas stated in a recent interview: “We need a local center – an observatory – where K-12 teachers can train and learn to teach astronomy, and STEM education.  A place where students, parents, and members of the public can gather, not only to use this magnificent instrument, but bring their own telescopes and binoculars and make a personal connection to the night sky.”