A groundbreaking ceremony for the new Emera Astronomy Center at the University of Maine will be held April 29 at 2 p.m.
The $5.2 million astronomy center is made possible with a $1 million naming gift from Emera Inc., the parent company of Bangor Hydro and Maine Public Service.
The Emera Astronomy Center will be the future home of the Maynard F. Jordan Planetarium and Observatory. Construction will begin by mid-May. The 7,400-square-foot center, with adjacent 618-square-foot observatory, could be open as early as fall 2014.
WBRC has teamed with planetarium specialists Kasian on the design of the facility, and Nickerson & O’Day, a Maine-based construction firm, has been awarded the bid for construction.
The site is at the intersection of Rangeley and Long roads on campus, adjacent to the Lyle E. Littlefield Ornamentals Trial Garden.
“This is truly an opportunity for the UMaine community and the state to celebrate Emera’s investment in the University of Maine, the study and appreciation of Maine’s night sky, and the spirit of philanthropy,” says UMaine President Paul Ferguson. “This facility, with its focus on education and outreach, will be a landmark in Maine, and it would not have happened without Emera’s generous gift.”
Expected to join President Ferguson for the groundbreaking ceremony will be Chris Huskilson, President and CEO, Emera Inc., and Gerry Chasse, President and COO, Bangor Hydro and Maine Public Service.
“Emera is proud to invest in the communities where we live and work. We’re also working to make energy cleaner, so the center’s use of geothermal heat pumps is a great example of renewable energy use,” says Chris Huskilson.
The groundbreaking event also celebrates the investment and vision of an anonymous donor who first proposed the astronomy facility to enhance the viewing of the night sky, and who provided $3.2 million in funding to help make the project a reality.
The new Emera Astronomy Center will feature a planetarium dome 33 feet in diameter — the largest in the state — equipped with a state-of-the-art Definiti projection system. The new observatory’s 20-inch digital PlaneWave CDK20 telescope also will be the largest in Maine.
The center will include innovative exterior lighting designed to help preserve the dark-sky critical to enhanced stargazing.
The center will be heated with geothermal heat pumps – the first building at UMaine to benefit from this energy efficient electric technology.
The Emera Astronomy Center will enhance UMaine’s role in outreach to K–12 students and promotion of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. The planetarium and observatory will complement the many other efforts at UMaine to attract students to scientific disciplines by inspiring children — and all those who are children at heart — about the science of astronomy.
Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745