Florida Tech to Have State’s Largest Telescope
– A $150,000 gift by an anonymous Brevard County donor will enable Florida Institute of Technology to construct the state’s largest telescope on top of the
recently completed F.W. Olin Physical Sciences Building. Construction on the 32-inch telescope will begin in 2005 and is expected to take 18 months to
Florida Tech President Anthony J. Catanese said the new telescope is an indicator of Florida Tech’s continuing maturation as a nationally renowned research
“Now, with the largest telescope in the state of Florida, our leadership position in the Southern Astronomy Research Association, resources at Kitt Peak
National Observatory in Arizona, Florida Tech is uniquely positioned as a national leader in astronomy and space sciences. As a university founded by
scientists in America’s space program, it’s important that our faculty and students continue to focus their attention on the stars.”
“It almost goes without saying that the generosity of this donor has opened new worlds to our students and to the greater Brevard community,” said Terry
Oswalt, Associate Dean for Research in the College of Science and Liberal Arts.
Oswalt, who also serves as a professor of space sciences, said that the original telescope would have been 24 inches, but the donation makes possible an
increase of eight inches in diameter. In the case of telescopes, bigger really is better. “The additional eight inches will allow us to collect nearly
twice the amount of light,” said Matt Wood, professor of space sciences. Wood added that “the increased size will allow faculty and students access to
twice the number of objects in space as a 24-inch telescope.”
Thomas Fox, Senior Vice President of Advancement at Florida Tech, said the actions of the anonymous donor show how Brevard residents can make a difference
in the life of their university.
Florida Tech’s undergraduate astronomy program is among the largest in the nation. The university has 80 astronomy majors, split evenly between men and
women. The university also offers masters and doctoral degrees in space sciences.