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The great people at Lunt Solar Systems had a problem-a bunch of left over 8 inch Newtonian reflectors from a discontinued product launch. The Charlie Bates Solar Astronomy Project had a need-equipment for Georgia Schools to teach kids how to assemble and use high quality telescopes.

Andy Lunt approached me a few months back and asked if I could help him distribute a few telescope kits to middle school and high school students in order to help others get interested in his passion for optics and telescope-mechanics. I was of course interested as I had a strong passion for getting kids interested in anything besides X-box and reality TV! We both agreed that this would be a great project to give back to the community as we had both been pretty fortunate in our lives and wanted others to get every opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the sky through the great hobby of astronomy that we have come to love.

The latest school to benefit from Lunt Solar System's generosity and community spirit was the Creekside School in Cataula, GA. 

Nancy Sills (also a NASA/JPL solar system ambassador) and her friends in Cataula accepted 3 eight inch Newtonian scopes from Lunt through the Charlie Bates Solar Astronomy Project.  The students assembled the scopes with help from local volunteers and now have three state of the art telescopes that they themselves built and aligned.  The students got to see first hand how te4lescopes are made and now they get to use them in school activities for years to come.   Please enjoy the photos of the students assembling these scopes and join me in thanking Andy Lunt, Alan Traino, Rikki Hocking, Brian Stephens and the entire team at Lunt Solar Systems

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The project has come to fruition as Andy and I were able to muster up help from a variety of like-minded individuals and finally deliver the scope kits to our first school Hopewell Middle School in Alpharetta, GA on Nov. 3rd, 2010.

Here is a link to a time lapse video of the entire day:

Here is a link to a real time video of the instruction plus a “Thank You Andy Lunt” from the kids..

My great friends Frank Garner and Theo Ramakers from the Charlie Elliott Chapter of the Atlanta Astronomy Club graciously volunteered their time and expertise to the project as assembly specialists..  Each has decades of experience in mechanics and astronomy and let me tell you how glad I was that they were there. Their flare with the kids was obvious as they brought up different groups throughout the day to assemble the different components of the 8” Newts..

Tom Sewell, the gifted science teacher at Hopewell somehow managed to acquire the budget to purchase 2 Celestron mounts to go along with the scopes and The Charlie Bates Solar Astronomy Project supplied extra eyepieces, mounting hardware, nuts and bolts and coordination for the project. We managed to get together for a philanthropic cause and come up with a complete package.

Lunt has graciously donated the remaining scopes to my outreach and we are planning on a yearlong effort to get kids interested in telescope assembly and astronomy. Hooray Lunt! Now if I can just talk Theo and Frank into doing it a few more times, tee hee. I am honored to be able to say I was a part of this project and I want to encourage you all to go out to a local school or youth group and get involved with outreach..  It is the most satisfying thing I have ever done and I want you all to experience it..  A youngster’s smiling face or expression of “wow” after seeing something amazing through a telescope is priceless andd lettme tell you, it can make a hard day a great day in a hurry..


Stephen W. Ramsden
Executive Director
The Charlie Bates Solar Astronomy Project


I want to thank the people at Lunt that made this possible:

         Robert Bastian – Machine Shop

         Alexandra Cupps-Parker – Reception/Office

         David Fonseca – Grinding/Polishing

         Theresa Fuentes – Assembly

         Rikki Hocking – Sales/Customer Service/Accounting, hottie coordinator

         Brandon Keith – Polishing Shop Supervisor

         Kevin LeGore – Website/Forums, death metal specialist

         Andy Lunt – Owner/Engineering/Testing/etc….

         Scott Pearson – Shipping

         Brian Stephens – Contacting/Assembly/Repairs-special assistant to Solare

         Alan Traino- big cheese and all around nice guy, spelunker extraordinaire

Thank you to the National Air Traffic Controllers Association and the National Black Coalition of Aviation Employees Southern Region for helping to sponsor this and my 70+ other yearly events.

And my friends in the Charlie Elliott Chapter of the Atlanta Astronomy Club

         Theo Ramakers

         Frank Garner

Special thanks to Tom Sewell and the Gwinnett County school system for their overwhelming support of my nonprofit.