A Broome County space education center is planning to hold a series of events to mark its first half-century of operation.

Kopernik Observatory and Science Center in Vestal opened its doors in June 1974. The facility on Underwood Road was built by the Kopernik Society of Broome County.

Captain James Lovell, a former NASA astronaut, attended a 1973 Binghamton ceremony to celebrate planned Kopernik Observatory.
Captain James Lovell, a former NASA astronaut, attended a 1973 Binghamton ceremony to celebrate planned Kopernik Observatory.
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Construction began in 1973 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the birth of Mikolaj Kopernik, the man known as the "father" of astronomy.

Center executive director Drew Deskur said the observatory initially had a single classroom and two domes. After about two decades, the facility was expanded to its current configuration.

The Kopernik Observatory and Science Center provides an opportunity for people to see what's going on in the skies far from Vestal. (Photo: Bob Joseph/WNBF News)
The Kopernik Observatory and Science Center provides an opportunity for people to see what's going on in the skies far from Vestal. (Photo: Bob Joseph/WNBF News)
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The Kopernik Observatory regularly welcomes groups from area schools and focuses on encouraging life-long learning.

The center's Friday programs feature presentations on astronomy and a wide array of other topics.

A plaque at the Kopernik Observatory and Science Center. (Photo: Bob Joseph/WNBF News)
A plaque at the Kopernik Observatory and Science Center. (Photo: Bob Joseph/WNBF News)
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The Kopernik Observatory is preparing to launch a major fundraising campaign to support plans to renew and expand the facility.

Upcoming special activities include the winter Star Party in February and an October gala event featuring dignitaries and people who'll recall some of the things they learned at the center.

VIDEO: A brief conversation with Drew Deskur recorded at Kopernik Observatory and Science Center in October.

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Contact WNBF News reporter Bob Joseph: bob@wnbf.com. For breaking news and updates on developing stories, follow @BinghamtonNow on Twitter.

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