College officials plan to raise the roof next week -- the roof of the Jack C. Davis Observatory.
Steel beams were trucked in Wednesday in preparation for constructing the roof, complete with sliding track doors above three telescopes, of Western Nevada Community College's observatory.
The 2,800-square-foot building is expected to be completed in November and open to public use in January.
It will house one 10-inch and two 16-inch reflecting telescopes. Another 4-inch refracting telescope will be housed in a robodome outside for solar viewing and research.
The idea took shape in January 2000 with a $100,000 donation from the Nevada Gaming Association for Educational Excellence.
It has since grown to a million-dollar facility.
The pinnacle of the fund-raising efforts came when astronaut Buzz Aldrin held an open house and presentation April 28, 2001.
Then an appropriations bill from the U.S. Senate kicked in $300,000.
"That took us from a really nice facility to one that is out of this world," said Helaine Jesse, dean of institutional advancement. "It's so awesome."
The observatory, named for the college's first president, Jack C. Davis, will serve not only the students at the college, but students throughout the school district as well.
Software will be available allowing teachers to access the observatory from their classrooms and eight telescopes will rotate through the schools.
It will serve as a weather center for Carson City and surrounding areas with up-to-date information available over the Internet.
Students enrolled in the heavy equipment program at the college plan to use donated equipment to clear the ground in preparation for construction, saving about $40,000.
Jesse is selling planet replicas to raise money for the project.
The planets will be lined up according to their order in the solar system to form a walkway between the main campus and the observatory.
"Our plan is when you look down from the observatory, you can see from Mercury to Pluto at the other end," Jesse said.
Each planet will have a plaque dedicated to the person or organization who purchased it as well as information about the particular planet.
Private donations have also been made from the Nevada Bell Foundation, Hershenow & Klippenstein Architects, the Builders Association of Western Nevada, the PolyPhaser Corp., Harley-Davidson Financial Services, Comstock Automation, Andy Butti, Bill and Virgie Miller, as well as donated equipment and services.