Special to The Ely Times

One of Nevada’s most treasured parks for hiking, camping and star gazing is Great Basin National Park in Baker, Nevada. The home of Lehman Caves and aged Bristlecone pines, the area is renowned for some of the darkest and clearest night skies in the United States.

NV Energy recently awarded the Great Basin National Park Foundation a $50,000 gift to support the Great Basin Observatory, a state of the art astronomical observatory to be launched in 2016.  The project is a collaboration among the University of Nevada Reno, Western Nevada College, Great Basin National Park and the Great Basin National Park Foundation. Southern Utah University and Concordia University will soon join this group as partners. Use of the Observatory’s telescope will be available through the internet to astrophysicists and students alike, and data generated at the Observatory will be used for worldwide research and education.

“Great Basin National Park is a very special asset to Nevadans, and NV Energy is proud to be a part of this important initiative,” said Mary Simmons, NV Energy Vice President of Business Development and Community Strategy. “The Observatory will provide unique educational opportunities for students, tourists and astronomy enthusiasts of all ages across the state.”

Completion of the observatory will coincide with the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service and 30th Anniversary of Great Basin National Park.  “NV Energy has given generously to Park projects in the past”, said Rebecca Mills, Chair of the Great Basin National Park Foundation. “This significant gift, combined with Board member contributions and pledges, serves as a match of $100,000 pledged by the Great Basin National Heritage Partnership, and speeds us on our way to the stars.”

To donate or for more information about the project visit: www.greatbasinobservatory.org.