New observatory lets students scan stars in class

By SUSANNE M. SCHAFERAssociated Press

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - Students and teachers across South Carolina are getting a chance to peer into space using an interactive observatory at the newly renovated State Museum in Columbia.

Students may decide where to aim a vintage, 16-foot-long refracting telescope as they study the moon, planets and stars.

State Museum director of education Tom Falvey says the museum is working with six schools to start the program.

Falvey says he hopes someday every school in the state will be able to connect with the museum and its telescope through their computers.

The new observatory is part of a $23 million renovation that opens to the public Aug. 16.

The museum also is adding a domed planetarium, a 4-D movie theater, and expanded galleries to display its antique telescopes, art and other treasures.

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