One small step for astronaut Buzz Aldrin may translate into a giant leap for Western Nevada Community College's planned observatory.
The second man to set foot on the moon will help raise money for the Jack C. Davis Observatory in a visit to Carson City scheduled for April 18, 2001.
"We are so excited here," said Helaine Jesse, vice president of institutional advancement of the college. "For our little observatory project, it's just amazing."
Jesse knew she wanted to plan a special event to serve as a fund-raiser for the observatory. While brainstorming with her husband, he suggested she invite a former astronaut.
After finding Aldrin's web site and speaking with his agent, it was set up.
"It was too cool," Jesse said.
Aldrin pioneered moon travel as the lunar module pilot on Apollo 11. When Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon, Aldrin was right behind him.
"The caliber of what this man has done is unbelievable," Jesse said. "The impact of Buzz Aldrin signifies the impact that this observatory will have."
Tickets for a private reception with premium seating will be sold for $250. Only about 200 premium tickets will be available.
General admission tickets will cost $100 each and all proceeds will go the observatory.
"We're taking reservations right now," Jesse said. "We've already sold 45 premium seats - that's how popular this guy is."
Jesse said the college plans to sponsor a coloring contest at the elementary schools and an essay contest at the high school, rewarding the winners with free tickets.
The observatory started out as a 15-foot diameter dome, large enough to house one 16-inch telescope but, with donations from the community, plans have expanded to a 2,500-square-foot building with sliding track doors above three telescopes.
The telescopes will include a 16-inch reflecting telescope, a 12-inch reflecting telescope and a 4-inch refracting telescope.
The building will also house a weather station that will measure temperatures, relative humidity and a look at the weather conditions available on the Internet.
The observatory will serve not only the students at the college but will be open to the general public.
The Builders Association of Western Nevada is helping with construction and materials.
Tom Metcalf, president of the association, is in charge of seeking donations and finding a construction company.