Montana Learning Center Reports Record Telescope Use
By Moosetrack Megan

Posted: February 23, 2022

The Montana Learning Center is reporting record use of its three state-of-the-art observatories, offering unique learning opportunities to more students and educators than ever before.Data compiled by the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, the Learning Center’s university partner and Skynet host, indicates that since the Montana Learning Center started working with students and teachers on the Perez Observatory in 2020, more than 2,500 users, including 185 groups such as universities, schools, and other organizations, have completed and downloaded more than 38,000 light exposures.The Pérez Observatory houses a 16” RC Optical Systems telescope, hosted by New Mexico Skies, and is situated on a mountain top in Mayhill, New Mexico. Thanks to the very kind generosity of Christian Pérez and Mike and Lynn Rice of New Mexico Skies, Learning Center students and teachers have the opportunity to access this amazing resource located 7,300 feet above sea level. This partnership provides unparalleled educational experiences for students and teachers across Montana and the Northwest region.The Montana Learning Center’s other two telescopes are housed on site, near Helena, Mont. The 25-inch telescope is the largest public-use telescope available in the state, and a 14-inch telescope is available for taking detailed color images of huge swaths of the night sky.The Montana Learning Center provides telescope instruction for educators across Montana, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon, through Montana State University in Bozeman, Mont. This semester, 11 educators are participating in the spring course, where they will learn to not only operate and collect data from the observatories, but to also incorporate telescope use and research into their curricula.For more information, please contact Ryan Hannahoe, Executive Director of the Montana Learning Center, at MontanaLearningCenter@gmail.com or 406-475-3638. The Montana Learning Center at Canyon Ferry Lake offers youth summer camps in a variety of STEM fields, teacher learning opportunities, and the state’s premier astronomy program, featuring the largest public-use telescope in Montana. Montana Learning Center and Montana State University partner to facilitate NASA’s Northwest Earth & Space Science Pathway in Montana, an outreach effort to strengthen aerospace education and outreach. The Center boasts a picturesque lakeside setting, which is ideal for exploring Montana’s geology and night sky.