FIU offers first look inside Stocker AstroScience Center

The College of Arts & Sciences offered a sneak peek at the Stocker AstroScience Center this week, an on-campus observatory that has been nearly two decades in the making.

During an event Tuesday, Nov. 12, faculty and staff celebrated FIU’s newest research building, which is nearing completion. Featuring classrooms and research labs, the observatory is capped off by a dome featuring a main telescope with a platform for eight additional telescopes. Made possible by a transformational gift from Dr. Carl Stocker, the Stocker AstroScience Center will expand research and educational opportunities for students, while offering community members up-close encounters with the stars through public events.

“The Carl Stocker families are very honored to have joined the many talented people coordinated and inspired by Dr. James Webb, astronomer and physicist at FIU who envisioned the Stocker AstroScience Center as a gateway to the grandeur of the cosmos,” Stocker said. “This observatory will introduce many related sciences to FIU students and the community.”

The highlight of the facility is a Southeastern Association for Research in Astronomy (SARA) control room inspired by the bridge of the U.S.S. Enterprise from the popular TV series “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” SARA is a consortium of 10 universities that are actively engaged in astronomical research.

“Our No. 1 goal is to provide a world class education for our students. Being able to do so in such an inspiring venue further enriches our students’ experiences,” said Arts & Sciences Dean Kenneth G. Furton. “Our faculty members have spent 20 years working to make the Stocker AstroScience Center a reality. It’s amazing for us to see this dream finally realized.”

Future plans for the facility include a state-of-the-art planetarium.

“This dedicated teaching facility will be one of the most advanced student observatories around,” Webb said. “It will serve our students and faculty in their research endeavors, and with the eventual addition of the planetarium, it will truly be worlds ahead.”

The Stocker AstroScience Center is scheduled for completion by the end of the year.