Timeline of the St. Paul's Lenore and Walter Hawley Observatory

1930
The first SPS observatory is constructed next to the Red Barn, and houses a 5-inch refracting telescope built in 1893 by Alvan Clark. It is used primarily by Lower School science classes and occasionally by students interested in astronomy.

1968
Mr. Walter N. Hawley joins the SPS science department. Astronomy clubs are created by students who hold evening viewings for local school children and the Cub Scouts.

Early 1970s
Students with an interest in astronomy take periodic trips to Harvard's Oak Ridge Observatory in Harvard, Massachusetts.

1977-78
Nine astronomers from colleges and universities across the country come to SPS on April 17 and 18, for participation in a symposium devoted to the topic of observational astronomy at an introductory level. Several students are able to share in the work and discussions of the symposium, which are coordinated by Walter N. Hawley of the Science department.

1980
Over Thanksgiving break, active Montana astronomy students construct the "Dump Observatory" which is clear of trees and lights. With the construction of this observatory, the first astronomy classes at St. Paul's begin. This observatory serves as a catalyst for obtaining real domes which could properly house the telescopes. The two telescopes used in the "dump observatory" are a 3 & 12-inch and a 6-inch Schmidt-Cassagrain.

1984
The school has valuable astronomy instruments which are at risk due to inadequate housing; there is a small but growing number of students with a particular interest in astronomy. Converting an area of rough and neglected terrain that until about 1940 had been the site of the School's former golf course into an outstanding observational facility is planned for the teaching of introductory astronomy. Duncan Read '15 makes efforts in order for others to realize the need for an astronomy center. Under the leadership of Amory Houghton, Jr. '45, five alumni contributed $50,000 towards the construction of an astronomy center.

1985
In June of 1985, the Rector, Charles H. Clark breaks ground for the new SPS Astronomy Center. The new observational facility is planned for the teaching of introductory astronomy, and is located in an area of rough and neglected terrain that until about 1940 had been the site of the School's former golf course.

1987
The Lawrence Reeve family donates the Lowell Swift Reeve Observatory, now referred to as the Lowell Observatory (after Lawrence Reeve's great uncle who founded the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, AZ).

The Rev. Charles H. Clark, ninth Rector of the school, presides over the dedication of the Lowell Swift Reeve Observatory. The Observatory was donated by the Reeve family in memory of their son, Lowell Swift Reeve '69. Mr. Walter Hawley stands in the center and Christopher Sklarin '84 on the left, as they participate in the ceremony for the new dome.

Inside the dome, Laura Gohlke [the visiting German student for 1998/99] tests a new spectrograph on the Takahasi refractor.

The Lowell Observatory houses a Takahasi FC-125, which is a 125-mm apochromatic refractor that is used mainly for highly magnified views of our Moon, planets, open star clusters, and multiple stars. In addition it is used as an astrograph to photograph the Moon, and as illustrated in the above photo it's used for testing new equipment.

1989
Observatory-Three is constructed and initially houses a 7-inch Schmidt Camera.

1993
Dr. Harry Ferguson '77, an astronomer for the Hubble Space Telescope Science Institute, launches the first of two fund drives for the proposed SPS 0.7-meter Alumni Telescope. This effort raised $50,000 to purchase the optical system and to prepare the site for the proposed telescope.

1994
During the spring break four advanced astronomy students travel with Mr. and Mrs. Hawley to the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona. At Lowell the astronomy students observe variable stars with the 31-inch Lowell reflector and CCD camera system.

The Four St. Paul's Astronomy students (left to right: Adam Giuliano '95, Richard Stephenson '95, Charles de Saint-Aignan '95, and Samantha van Gerbig '94) stand beneath Lowell's 31-inch telescope which they used to photograph variable stars. [Photograph by Walter Hawley]

1995
"Asteroid Hawley (#8710) discovered in 1995 by C. P. de Saint-Aignan '95 at Lowell Observatory. E. G. and C. S. Shoemaker shot the discovery film on May 15, 1994 at the Palomar Observatory on Mount Griffin in California. Named in honor of the discoverer's friend and mentor, Walter N. Hawley, a physics and astronomy teacher at Saint Paul's School in Concord, New Hampshire. He is also the director of the Saint Paul's Astronomy Center, an observatory of unequaled quality at the high-school level. Hawley has observed the night sky with his students since 1964, acquainting them with such wonders as the Aurora Borealis and Messier Objects, as well as lesser wonders, such as Murphy's Law—and, of course, frostbite!"

See asteroid diagram here (soon).

1996
Observatory-One is built. Eight, portable 8-inch portable Dobsonians are stored there, and it will house the main control room and maintenance shop for the proposed SPS 0.7-meter Alumni Telescope.

1998
The Astronomical Society of the Pacific awards the 1998 Thomas Brennan Award to Walter N. Hawley For Outstanding Contributions to the Teaching of Astronomy in Grades 9-12.

Mr. Richard R. Pacelli, Jr. joins the Astronomy Center's staff.

2000
The Astronomy Center now consists of four domes, a Chart House, an observation deck, and the newest building constructed in 1996, Observatory-One.

Check out the domes here.

2001
Dr. Tom McCarthy joins the Astronomy Center's staff.

Dr. Harry Ferguson '77 runs his second successful fund drive that raised $183,500 to have fabricated the mechanical and electronic control systems for the new SPS 0.7-meter Alumni Telescope.

The Tucson company, Astronomical Consultants and Equipment, Inc. (ACE), has started construction, and the primary, secondary, and tertiary mirrors have already been completed in Flagstaff and delivered to ACE. The new SPS 0.7-meter Alumni Telescope should see first-light at the observatory in the winter of 2002.

2004
The astronomy website undergoes major renovations. It comes out looking pretty good!

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