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OCC Receives $1 Million for Astronomy
Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Anonymous Gift Will Fund Telescopes, Conference Center

An anonymous donor has given Orange Coast College Foundation $1 million to develop an Astronomy Village in the Science Quad area that includes the Lewis Applied Science Building, ABC (Allied Health, Biology and Consumer Science) Complex and the Science Lecture Hall.

The donor, who lives in Orange County, wishes to remain anonymous, reported OCC Foundation Director Doug Bennett.

The donation will fund fixed telescopes for research, lab and public viewing; an Astronomy Students and Visiting Scholars Conference Center that the college plans to complete for the 2015 fall semester, and a mirror grinding and optics lab.

Fixed telescopes will be installed in the lab for solar, day and night viewing, according to astronomy professor Nick Contopoulos. The scopes will also be available for public viewing. In addition, two larger telescopes, one solar and one night, will be reserved for student and faculty research. They will also be able to send images directly into the dome of the new planetarium.

“This is an exceptionally generous gift and will directly benefit students and provide direct access to large telescopes for the public,” Contopoulos said.

The optics grinding lab will be available for students to make their own telescopes, including a machine-driven grinder to make make mirrors. The griding lab will “better prepare tech students for industry related jobs in optics,” Contopoulos said.

“Everything is in order to open by 2017, but part of this conference center may open sooner,” he added. The project will complement the college’s new Planetarium; construction on the Planetarium scheduled to begin in the summer of 2015.

Orange Coast College, founded in 1947, is one of the nation's top transfer schools. With a student population of 22,000, OCC provides exemplary programs leading to Associate in Arts degrees, Associate in Science degrees and 145 career programs. The college's 164-acre campus is located in the heart of Costa Mesa. For complete details about OCC, visit http://www.orangecoastcollege.edu.