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King University’s Burke Observatory to Host First Light Celebration April 13

Hubbard M42 Astro IM#9E8E13BRISTOL, Tenn., April 8, 2016 – King University's College of Arts & Sciences is hosting First Light Celebration at the University’s Edward Burke Observatory on Wednesday, April 13. The King community is invited to a telescope viewing of the moon and Jupiter, weather permitting, beginning from 8-9 p.m. The event will serve to dedicate the University’s telescope, a 14-inch Celestron telescope donated by Mr. Wayne Manly, a member of the Bristol Astronomy Club (BAC).

“We are thrilled to host this First Light Celebration, and so thankful to Wayne for his generous donation to the University,” said Dr. Han Chuan Ong, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at King University. “This is a larger telescope than what we have been using at the observatory. It will be of great value to our program and students as it increases our capability to perform research.”

During a recent conversation with Mr. Manly and Tom Rutherford, adjunct professor of Physics at King and president of the BAC, Mr. Manly proposed a swap. “Wayne asked me if I thought King would be interested in swapping the 11-inch telescope the University currently was using with the larger 14-inch telescope he possessed. I said I’ll talk with Ray Bloomer [emeritus professor of Physics and Astronomy at King] about that,” said Rutherford.

“The new larger telescope collects approximately 61% more light, which means we can see things that are fainter and farther away. We can now see things that are much more interesting,” says Bloomer. “Because we can see fainter objects in the same length of time of gathering data, [the 14-inch telescope] is more efficient for conducting research.”

With everyone on board, the swap was made. “We concluded we needed a new, more robust mount to hold the new 14-inch telescope,” said Bloomer. “With the heavier telescope, we needed heavier counterweights to balance it.”

A new mount was purchased using money from donations including a contribution by the Burke Observatory Fund as well as Dr. Vanessa Fitsanakis by way of her Dr. Edward W. Burke, Jr. Professorship in the Natural Sciences.

“We then had to build a way to adapt the new mount to the concrete pier on which it sits at the observatory. I received a recommendation for a company located close to campus who would be able to create the adapter. Master Model Craft, Inc., of Bristol, Tenn., was gracious enough to build the adapter for us,” said Bloomer.

“Mr. Wayne Manly’s benevolence and members of Master Model Craft, Inc. made this all possible,” said Ong. “We are grateful and look forward to actively utilizing the impressive piece of equipment both within our science programs and for future astronomical events open to the community.”

The First Light Celebration will include a short lecture by Dr. Ray Bloomer, highlighting Dr. Edward Burke, for whom the observatory is named, and the Bristol Astronomy Club. Attendees will also be able to view photographs taken by King students with the new telescope. Weather permitting, the event will conclude with a viewing of the moon and Jupiter.


King University is a Presbyterian-affiliated, doctoral-level comprehensive university. Founded in 1867 as King College, the University offers more than 90 majors, minors, pre-professional degrees and concentrations in fields such as business, nursing, law, medical and health sciences, pharmacy, education, and humanities. Graduate programs are offered in business administration, education, and nursing. A number of research, off-campus learning opportunities, and travel destinations are also available. King University is a NCAA Division II and a Conference Carolinas member with 25 varsity sports. For more information about King University, visit King University does not discriminate against academically qualified students of any race, color, national or ethnic origin, sex, age, or disability. King University is certified by SCHEV to operate locations in Virginia. For more information on SCHEV certification, contact the King University office at Southwest Virginia Community College, 309 College Road, Richlands, VA 24641.