New UNG observatory nears completion

The University of North Georgia is reaching for the stars with its latest project, a brand-new North Georgia Astronomical Observatory — and right now, all systems are “go” for a summer completion date.

“This is a project whose time had come,” says Ken Crowe, Assistant Vice President for Facilities at UNG.

The new $1.4 million observatory is going up on the same site (near the school’s Dahlonega campus) as the old one, which was demolished before construction began last fall.  Says Observatory director Dr. Greg Feiden,  “The facility itself was starting to show its age.  In some spots, the walls were literally crumbling, and the basement flooded, and…in that sense, the structure itself was kind of losing its integrity.”

That’s not the case with the new 3,200-square-foot building, which was approved by the University System of Georgia in January of 2019 and funded by UNG.  Staffers say the new building won’t just house one larger and more user-friend telescope — it’ll house two of them.

“So now we have two telescopes that can be run simultaneously…essentially we can take a look at a single object with two different telescopes in a variety of different ways,” says Dr. Feiden.  “But then also we can just look at two different things entirely.  So we can have more students engaged in research.”

The team at UNG says it’s not just students who will benefit from the facility; with a mainly open-door policy, they say it’ll be a place for the entire community to stargaze.  Says Crowe, “Now we have a facility where we can accommodate classes, accommodate the public, it’s ADA compatible…which is really something that not a lot places will be able to offer.”

For updates on the North Georgia Astronomical Observatory at the University of North Georgia, click over the facility’s Facebook page here