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Buffalo Museum of Science removes telescope, as it prepares to overhaul space exhibit

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

A vintage telescope housed inside Buffalo's Kellogg Observatory since 1930, but closed to the public since 1999, has been removed from the dome. It's on its way to Pennsylvania, where it will be refurbished and then returned in 2017 as the Buffalo Museum of Science gives its popular space exhibit a full makeover.

The eight-inch Lundin refractor and all related components were removed, piece by piece, using a crane to delicately lift the parts through the opening of the observatory's dome. The telescope will be restored in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, under the guidance of Dr. Fred Orthlieb.

It's not the first time the telescope will be updated. In 1989, it was equipped with a new drive and slow-motion controls. The vintage instrument will again be augmented by updated technology.

"We are going to be adding some contemporary software that is used in modern day telescopes that helps a user identify the particular celestial bodies that you're hoping to identify and view," said Marisa Wigglesworth, president and CEO of the Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences. "With the contemporary software addition, adding on to the refurbished historic telescope, we should have a really marvelous piece that our visitors will enjoy."

Refurbishing the telescope is just part of a wider $1.2 million dollar renovation project. The Buffalo Museum of Science's popular fourth-floor space exhibit will undergo a full redevelopment into a more interactive studio.

"We will close our space-themed exhibit, called 'Our Place in Space,' early in 2017," Wigglesworth said. "The exhibit will reopen in August of 2017. And we look forward to announcing an official reopening date for the observatory early in the new year."

Wigglesworth said the museum could not yet announce that date but she anticipates the telescope's reopening could happen some time in the autumn of 2017.

An ongoing capital campaign known as "See It Through" is seeking contributions to complete the project. Wigglesworth said the campaign was about $200,000 under the goal as of this week.


Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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