Kris Koenig, Director of the Kiwanis Chico Community Observatory, has notified the media this morning the Kiwanis Chico Community Observatory will be closed until further notice due to technical issues with the solar power system.
Volunteers entered the facility yesterday and noticed a palpable acrid smell of hot plastic being emitted from the observatory’s battery bank. Volunteers shut down the charging system to prevent further damage or fire.
“This is really frustrating,” said Koenig. “We’ve been getting the place all shined up for its 12th anniversary next week, and now this. Timing couldn’t be worse.”
Along with the anniversary, the brightening comet ISON which is starting to reveal itself in the pre-dawn sky and should be seen by the naked eye by the end of the month. The observatory is hopeful they will be able to host special comet viewing events once the comet is observable with the unaided eye.
“Throughout history, humanity believed that comets foretold tragic events,” said Koenig, ”I hope science will continue to prove that myth wrong when technicians inspect our solar power system and hopefully have a fast and cheap fix for it.”
The observatory was built by the Greater Chico Kiwanis Club and was dedicated November 17, 2001. According to Koenig, tens of thousands of guests have enjoyed the beauty of the universe guided by dedicated volunteers. Volunteers took over management of the observatory a few years ago and continue to run it under the Pacific Center for Astronomical Outreach. It is still operated by volunteers and is completely funded by public donations.
Anyone interested in making a donation to help with repairs should contact Koenig at (530) 588 0146 or through the North Valley Community Foundation.