St. Thomas Aquinas College is proud to announce the construction of the “Eye to the Sky” SKAE Astronomy Center on campus, which will include a state-of-the-art Telescope Observatory, as well as a classroom for astronomy and astrophysics programming. The Observatory will provide research and experiential learning opportunities – housing a powerful telescope which will allow for the observation and measurement of planets, stars, asteroids, comets, and galaxies.
Since the launch of its highly-regarded School of STEM on Earth Day 2021, the College has made a series of strategic investments to demonstrate its commitment to providing STEM education to the next generation of students.
“I am thrilled to announce this transformational investment to our current and future students, as well as our local community,” said Ken Daly, President of St. Thomas Aquinas College. “We will be one of the only institutions in this region to offer innovative astronomy programming, while providing hands-on learning and research opportunities.”
The Observatory will allow for future academic programming, as well as experiential learning opportunities for students, including undergraduate research, Astronomy Clubs, XLab projects, and the ability to work with faculty mentors who are experts in the field. As part of the College’s strategic Lifelong Learning pillar, St. Thomas Aquinas College alumni and the local community will also be welcome to experience key events including lectures, “Stargazing with Stars” nights, and more.
This seminal project has been made possible by the generosity of Board Chair Peter Skae and his wife Leslie. Peter facilitated the donation of the actual telescope and dome from Hudson River Trading, a multi-asset class quantitative trading firm. Peter and Leslie are personally funding the construction of the observatory building and classroom “to ensure that the next generation of St. Thomas Aquinas College students have the opportunity to pursue their academic dreams, while learning in a state of the art scientific setting.”
The College is planning to begin construction this summer, pending all necessary approvals, and expects to host the grand opening of the SKAE Astronomy Center in Fall 2023.
For prospective high school and transfer students interested in learning more, there are still spots open for the incoming Fall 2023 class. Students interested in astronomy are recommended to consider the College’s new Bachelor of Arts in Physics program with astronomy and astrophysics courses. In addition, students from all majors will have the opportunity to take special courses in the observatory. Please contact Samantha Bazile, Director of Admissions, [email protected] or 845-398-4104 by March 31 for more information.