Carson City's star power

One of the best things going on in this community has to be Western Nevada Community College's project to build an observatory.

The clouds may have been thick when ground was broken Wednesday morning for the site of the Jack C. Davis Observatory, but it didn't stop us from looking skyward and imagining the day students will be able to peer through telescopes -- five in all -- at the stars above.

What an inspiration.

"I think we all ought to reach for the stars," said Astronaut Buzz Aldrin when he visited Carson City a year ago for a fund-raiser. "I've had that in my mind ever since I was a youngster and looked up into the sky and saw the Northern Lights."

The college didn't exactly have to move heaven and earth to raise the money to build the observatory, but it was neverthless an astronomical effort.

Beginning with a $100,000 donation from the Nevada Gaming Foundation for Educational Excellence, aided by individual and business donations that poured in with the Aldrin visit and finished off with a $300,000 federal appropriation, the observatory will end up being a million-dollar facility when it is finished this fall.

Students throughout Carson City will benefit -- in math, science and, for some, simply the wonder of pondering the depths of the universe. Even on the ground, students in the college's heavy-equipment program will get valuable experience as they clear the site for construction.

And as a bonus, an observatory adds prestige to WNCC and to Carson City itself. Few cities this size or community colleges can boast of a facility that, in the words of fund-raiser Helaine Jesse, "is out of this world."

We like to think of it as Carson City's constellation prize.


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