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Dedication for new Bruneau Dunes State Park observatory to be held on June 1

Observatory Complex (Courtesy of Idaho State Parks and Recreation)
Observatory Complex (Courtesy of Idaho State Parks and Recreation)
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Bruneau Dunes State Park dedicates its new observatory on Thursday, June 1, according to a recent news release.

The new, state-of-the-art observatory features a rotating dome protecting the telescope and providing an unobstructed night sky view. The telescope is a CDK700 made by PlaneWave Instruments, which features a 700-millimeter (27.56 inches) aperture, a vast improvement over the scope in use for 25 years.

A short dedication will begin at 11 a.m. on June 1 to officially add the facility to the park. The new observatory sits near the existing observatory at the park, 27608 Sand Dunes Rd., in Mountain Home.

“We can now see farther and with more clarity than ever before,” said Bryce Bealba, park manager. “This gives us a more powerful tool for our visitors to explore the universe.”

New capabilities include off-site image projection, remote access for far-away partners and the opportunity for future planetarium shows. During the day or in the evening, when clouds inhibit viewing, recorded images and animations can be projected onto the inside of the dome, accompanied by theater-level music and sound effects.

The new observatory is larger and air-conditioned. It is also fully Americans with Disabilities Act accessible, and the new scope features a below-shoulder-high eyepiece, which alleviates viewing off of a ladder.

The first public show using the new scope is scheduled for June 16.

The observatory costs $2.7 million, which includes the new building, telescope, parking lot, landscaping, pathway lighting and planetarium equipment. Funding for the project came from Governor Brad Little’s Leading Idaho plan and was appropriated by the Idaho Legislature in 2022.

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