In case you’re not up on this whole situation, I found out last fall that the observatory was slated to shut down within about a year. I was appalled that they would just let it close down, so I put together a small business proposal and a steering committee in an attempt to develop an education and public outreach program for the observatory. The department has basically let me take this on, pretty much because no one else will (even though they think it’s a great idea). There have been a few bumps in the road, and I expect there to be a zillion more before this thing ever gets off the ground (or IF it gets off the ground).
In any case, we were granted permission to use the observatory twice this summer in order to run public open houses. These events will basically be experiments – what can we do with the space? how do we handle lots of people/cars? how much interest is there for this kind of thing? how much support is there from the department/faculty/university?
Once we have the answers to these questions, we can start putting together more concrete ideas for the program(s) — which leads to being able to get more time dedicated to such programs at the observatory — which leads to us being able to apply for funding. It’s a slow process, but hopefully a valuable one!